Nowhere in Perth immune from unhealthy air, sensors reveal

Monday, 14 November, 2022

Nowhere in Perth immune from unhealthy air, sensors reveal

Perth residents can now access real-time data about the air they breathe, with early analysis from the RAC Air Health Monitor revealing nowhere in Perth is immune from unhealthy air.

Between March and October 2022, over 1.6 million readings were taken from the network of sensors, with results showing Perth regularly experienced air pollution higher than levels recommended by the World Health Organisation.

RAC Group Executive Patrick Walker said there was no safe level of air pollution.

“Since monitoring began, all locations have at some point exceeded the healthy standards for air pollution,” Walker said. “While Australia’s air quality is certainly not the worst in the world, air pollution contributed to more than 3200 Australian deaths in 2018, a 26% increase from 2015. Despite these concerning numbers there has been a lack of quality data telling us what, where and when emissions strike in our community. This is the information gap we are addressing through the RAC Air Health Monitor to help drive down vehicle emissions in WA.”

Perth joins major cities Paris, London and Los Angeles in the use of this technology, with sensors provided by Californian technology company Clarity Movement Co, and a platform designed by engineering firm Ramboll.

“We’re proud to see the RAC Air Health Monitor become publicly available,” Clarity’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr Meiling Gao, said. “This the most comprehensive air sensor monitoring network in Australia, and we’re eager to see what impact it has in the months and years to come.”

The RAC Air Health Monitor is one of the largest air sensor networks in the country, with more than 200 sensors planned for installation. RAC is partnering with a range of schools and local governments to create a footprint of nearly 10,000 square kilometres across Perth.

“Insights from the RAC Air Health Monitor will enable and hopefully encourage governments to prioritise transport and planning policies and investments that reduce overall vehicle emissions and create cleaner and healthier air for everyone,” Walker said. “We also hope to inform and encourage individual behavioural change. We want more people to choose cleaner travel options — to drive less and choose to catch public transport, walk and cycle instead.”

Transport is a major source of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in built-up areas. The RAC Air Health Monitor measures particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide from various sources, including vehicle emissions, building and industry emissions and dust.

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