Air quality monitoring in Brooklyn, Melbourne

Case study

In late 2009, the EPA started an air quality monitoring program in Brooklyn, a suburb 10 km west of the Melbourne city centre. The area had been subject to high levels of particle pollution with the suspected cause being the Brooklyn Industrial Estate.

Monitoring results showed that particle pollution (PM – particles smaller than 10 micrometres in size) in Brooklyn were much higher than other regions of Melbourne and Geelong. 

Between November 2009 and April 2013, the PM air quality objective was exceeded on 95 days, including on 38 days between November 2009 and October 2010. Annually air quality in Brooklyn is significantly poorer than the Ambient Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure for particles, which states levels should not exceed the PM air quality standard on more than five days a year.

Poor air quality in Brooklyn generally occurred on weekdays, particularly mornings, during dry periods that had strong and persistent northerly winds. In addition, the PM reporting standard was not exceeded, showing that larger particles are causing the poor air quality. The major source of larger particles was windblown dust, derived from clay, soil, silt, sand, crushed building material, unpaved roads and other similar material. No other harmful particles were found.

These findings confirm that activities in the Brooklyn Industrial Precinct are the source of the ongoing air pollution, including from large trucks travelling along unsealed roads in the industrial estate. About 30% of the PM measured during days with high particle levels is attributable to dust from roads in the estate. 

The EPA is continuing to monitor air quality in Brooklyn. This enables it to respond to community concerns and work with local industries and government to improve dust management practices in the area.

Source: State of the Environment report 2013.