Air Pollution monitoring in South East Queensland

The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) maintains 28 monitoring stations in Brisbane and SE Queensland, Gladstone, Townsville, Mackay, Moranbah and Mt Isa. Of these, 14 are located in South East Queensland: Brisbane CBD, Cannon Hill, Deception Bay, Flinders View, Jondaryan, Mountain Creek, Mutdapilly, Pinkenba, North Maclean, Rocklea, South Brisbane, Springwood, Woolloongabba and Wynnum.

It is difficult to access monitoring data in Queensland. In New South Wales, community members can instantly download monitoring data for any (or all) pollutants at any (or all) of that state’s monitoring sites and any period from the EPA website. Residents in NSW can subscribe to receive air pollution alerts by SMS or email whenever air pollution monitoring detects concentrations exceeding the national standards.

By contrast, the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) websites provide access to ‘live’ data for just one hour. That does not allow for meaningful analysis. To obtain data for a week, month or a year for one or more locations, it is necessary to personally contact the right public servants in EHP or the Department of Science Information Technology and Innovation


Emission trends in South East Queensland

The national standards for fine particle pollution (PM2.5) are a daily average of 25µg/m3 and an annual average of 8µg/m3 (decreasing to 20 and 7µg/m3 respectively in the longer term).

Annual average concentrations of PM2.5 have exceeded the NEPM standard of 8µg/m3 in Woolloongabba most of the last 5 years. In 2014, the annual average PM2.5 concentration in Cannon Hill was 9.1µg/m3, well above the national standard. The annual average was also over 7µg/m3 in South Brisbane and Woolloongabba.

The national standards for coarse particle pollution (PM10) are a daily average of 50µg/m3 and an annual average of 25µg/m3. Victoria and the Australian Capital have adopted the stricter standard of 20µg/m3.

In SEQ, 24-hour average PM10 concentrations have exceeded the national standard during the last 5 years at the port-side suburbs of Wynnum and Pinkenba and along the SEQ coal corridor at Jondaryan and inner-city Woolloongabba. The sites recording the highest annual average concentrations during 2014 were Pinkenbah (23.9µg/m3), Jondaryan (21.6), Woolloongabba (19.1) and Lytton (17.8).


Emission trends in South East Queensland

Burning (fuel reduction, regeneration and agriculture) is the region’s leading source of PM10 emissions, accounting for almost 15 million kilograms according to the most recent NPI report. Motor vehicles and coal mining are the second and third most significant sources, each accounting for approximately 2 million kilograms, or 8-9% of the region’s total. The top 8 point sources of PM10 are listed in the following table.

Jeebropilly Open Cut Coal Mine [Amberley]


Enterprise Mine [North Stradbroke Island]


New Oakleigh Open Cut Coal Mine [Rosewood]


Yarraman Mine [North Stradbroke Island]


BP Refinery (Bulwer Island) Pty Ltd [Pinkenba]


Oxenford Quarries [Upper Coomera]


Caltex Refineries (QLD) Pty Ltd [Lytton]


Queensland Bulk Handling - coal un/loading [Fisherman's Island]


Major emitters of PM10 emissions in South East Queensland (kg) [Source: 2013-14 National Pollutant Inventory]

Boral’s quarries at Purga, Moy Pocket, Petrie and West Burleigh each reported more than 100,000kg of PM10 in 2013-14. Brisbane Airport reported very significant emissions of both PM10 and PM2.5 in the 2013-14 report, but this appears to have been a reporting error.

Fine particle (PM2.5) emissions in South Queensland have risen sharply in the last five years, increasing 37% in the 12 months prior to the 2013-14 NPI report. Electricity generation (Swanbank and FPC30) and coal mining (Jeebropilly and the now-closed New Oakleigh mines) were the 4th and 6th most significant sources of PM2.5, representing 10% of the region’s reported emissions. Brisbane’s two refineries are the top two point sources of PM2.5, followed by the Enterprise and Yarraman sand mines on North Stradbroke Island and the PFC30 biomass power plant. Swanbank A, B and E power stations were previously very significant sources of PM10 and PM2.5. The table below lists the six facilities that reported the highest PM2.5 emissions in 2013-14.

BP Refinery (Bulwer Island) Pty Ltd [Pinkenba]


Caltex Refineries (QLD) PTY LTD [Lytton]


Enterprise Mine [North Stradbroke Island]


FPC 30 Biomass power plant [Woongoolba]


Swanbank E Power Station [Raceview]


Yarraman Mine [North Stradbroke Island]


Major emitters of PM2.5 emissions in South East Queensland (kg) [Source: 2013-14 National Pollutant Inventory]

Useful sources

For help to access monitoring data, contact:

Dave Wainwright