Issue: Air quality - Air quality - pressures and responses

This is an issue under the Atmosphere theme of the Data Reporting System.

Why we need to know about this issue

Australians consistently rank air pollution as a major environmental concern. The pressures on our air and our responses to them are important factors in the quality of life. Air quality affects the health of the community and our environment and directly influences the sustainability of our lifestyles and production methods. It is therefore important to understand the principal pressures currently affecting air quality and the current state and effectiveness of societal responses to those pressures.


  • A-31 Implementation and effectiveness of National Environment Protection Measures 
    National Environment Protection Measures (NEPMs) are broad framework-setting statutory instruments similar to environmental protection policies. Subject to agreement by the Commonwealth, state and territories governments, they outline agreed national objectives and actions for protecting or managing particular aspects of the environment. More details on NEPMs can be obtained from
    An indicator on the implementation and effectiveness of NEPMs is included as an indicator of governments’ responses to air quality issues.
  • A-32 Implementation of national fuel quality standards 
    The transport sector is one of the major causes of air pollution with motor vehicles being the single largest contributor to urban air pollution and a major influence on the incidence of smog and haze.
    In 2002 national legislation came into force on national fuel standards for petrol and diesel. This legislation prohibited the supply of leaded petrol and reduced the level of sulfur in diesel fuel. In addition, fuel quality standards for biodiesel and liquefied petroleum gas came into force in late 2003. Inspectors monitor adherence to the standards through taking samples along the fuel supply chain.
    This indicator is a measure of the effectiveness of the government response to pollution from motor vehicles.
  • A-33 Implementation of wood heater programs 
    One of the main sources of particulate matter in specific areas is wood heaters. This is of specific concern in areas such as Launceston in Tasmania, Armidale in New South Wales, the Tuggeranong Valley in the Australian Capital Territory and the Port Phillip region in Victoria. This indicator looks at government programs as a response to reduce the impact of wood heaters.
  • A-34 Main sources of emissions of six pollutants (carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, lead, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds) 
    In developing and designing air quality policy and programs, it is useful to examine what are the main sources of emissions of the six criteria or common air pollutants. These are known to have harmful effects on our health.
  • A-35 Projections of motor vehicle travel and pollutant emissions 
    The transport sector is one of the major causes of air pollution. Therefore, it is important to estimate what is likely to happen in the future in terms of growth in motor vehicle travel and the projected growth in major pollutant emissions from motor vehicles.

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