Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue publishes latest air quality analysis update

The Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue continues to analyse Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network (UHAQMN) data, with a new 2021/22 update publicly released following an initial report in 2020.

To address concerns from some community representatives about a perceived worsening of air quality in the Upper Hunter region, the Dialogue developed an analysis project to investigate whether air quality had changed since the monitoring network was introduced, and to determine how the Upper Hunter air quality compares with other regions monitored in NSW.

The 2020 report (undertaken by ERM and peer-reviewed by a senior CSIRO scientist) found that air quality has changed in the Upper Hunter since the monitoring program began (i.e. concentrations had varied significantly over the period reviewed), but this change is in a manner that is generally consistent with monitoring data collected at DPIE stations across the remainder of NSW.

Further, the 2020 report also found that Upper Hunter air quality changes were broadly consistent with concentrations measured within the Lower Hunter and Central Coast, and that the difference between the Upper Hunter and the remainder of NSW is small in scale relative to the variability in concentrations across NSW.

The report also noted a negative correlation between rainfall and particulate matter concentrations across the UHAQMN (i.e. when rainfall is low, particulate matter is elevated, and vice versa).

The Dialogue’s Joint Environment Working Group member stakeholders encouraged supplementary analysis to be undertaken following the end of 2020, given the initial report’s inclusion of data up to the end of 2019 (a year with air quality heavily impacted by the effects of a prolonged drought and bushfire).

The latest public update released this week incorporates air quality data from 2021 and 2022, and continues to reinforce the earlier report’s findings.

The Dialogue will continue to undertake annual analysis of Upper Hunter air quality monitoring network data moving forward, with Damon Roddis of Zephyr Environmental continuing to lead this project analysis.

To view the latest 2021/22 analysis report, click here

To view more information on the project, click here

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