Clean Air Research Program
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, October 2008
The Australian Government's Clean Air Research Program (CARP) provided $1.4 million to support research that directly informs national air quality management, with the aim being to address some of the major research gaps in the management of air quality in Australia.
A workshop was held in Canberra on 16 October 2008 to present the findings of research funded through CARP. The major objectives of the CARP workshop were to:
- make CARP research findings available to senior policy makers and the scientific community;
- identify new knowledge arising from CARP research, including findings that challenge established thinking;
- discuss policy implications of CARP research findings; and
- highlight priorities for further research.
The CARP workshop was a successful culmination to a significant commitment of Commonwealth resources towards air quality management research. The workshop atmosphere was positive, with a concerted effort made to discuss a diverse range of issues and identify future research needs. CARP workshop participants, who included policy managers and researchers from Australia and New Zealand, identified a range of research priorities that would assist future air quality management in Australia.
Significant policy issues arising from the workshop include:
- Climate change is predicted to lead to a significant increase in ozone levels by 2020 and 2050, to the point where current ozone management strategies may not be adequate to meet AAQ NEPM ozone standards. Hospitalizations as a result of ozone exposure are predicted to increase by 200% in 2050 as a result of climate change. New strategies may, therefore, be needed to reduce ozone levels in Australia's major cities.
- Secondary organic aerosols (SOA) are a significant contributor to urban air pollution, particularly on days where the AAQ NEPM PM standards are not exceeded. Therefore, air quality management actions aimed at reducing PM should take into account emissions of SOA precursors, in addition to primary PM emissions.
- Biogenic emissions, especially isoprene, are a significant contributor to urban SOA and ozone. However, the exact relationship between biogenic and anthropogenic precursors in forming SOA and ozone is poorly understood.
- Bioassay analysis determined that the gas component of urban air samples is more toxic than the particle component, and indoor air samples were more toxic than roadside samples for a number of samples. These results challenge current thinking on the impacts of air pollution.
- Woodheaters are a significantly higher contributor to urban PM pollution than current inventories suggest. The NPI emission factor for woodheaters needs to be revised to reflect this and the Australian/New Zealand Standard test method for woodheaters should also be revised.
Future research priorities identified at the workshop include the need to develop a better understanding of:
- the relationship between biogenic and anthropogenic SOA and ozone precursors and its role in SOA and ozone formation
- the key synergies and conflicts related to the management SOA and ozone precursors in Australian airsheds, and
- the relationship between the impacts of air pollution on bioassays and humans, and how bioassay impacts be extrapolated to humans.
This report is intended to inform future air quality research in Australia.