Hobsons Bay Air Quality | Clean air for current and future generations
Why is Council involved in air quality?
The quality of the air we breathe impacts us all. While we recognise that poor levels of air quality affect all areas of Melbourne, there are tangible measures that both the community and Council can take at a local level to play their part in ensuring clean air for current and future generations.
Like many Councils in inner metropolitan areas, Hobsons Bay has historically had intensive industrial land uses that, along with increased vehicle traffic, contribute to the pressures on air quality in our area.
In 2021, the Inner West Air Quality Community Reference Group (IWAQCRG) investigated the air quality issues and concerns across Brimbank, Hobsons Bay and Maribyrnong Council areas, including transport initiatives such as the West Gate Tunnel Project, to provide advice and recommendations for consideration by the Victorian Government on actions to address these issues.
The group’s report, Air Pollution in Melbourne’s Inner West: taking direct action to reduce our community’s exposure, highlighted that inner west communities are exposed to high levels of air pollution, including dust and odour. Industrial and transport emissions are primary contributors to the standard of air quality, creating serious risks for our communities’ health, quality of life and amenity.
The Brooklyn Community Representative Group (BCRG) was set up as a reference group to bring together parties who have an interest in the air quality issues emanating from the Brooklyn Industrial Precinct. Its overarching goal as a group is to facilitate community, industry, local and state government, and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) working together to ensure that public concerns and aspirations concerning amenity and air quality are consistently understood and considered.
Hobsons Bay is one of several councils that participate in the Brooklyn Community Representative Group and actively supports its continued operation. We actively work with the BCRG to engage with local residents on air quality issues and connect these with key stakeholders such as the EPA, the transport and health departments and their respective ministers.
With this in mind, our overarching goal is to educate members of the community on measures they can take to protect themselves from poor air quality while also highlighting simple day-to-day measures residents and businesses can take to play their part in ensuring clean air. In support of the BCRG and in furthering the recommendations of the March 2020 IWAQCRG Report, Council is also working closely with Victorian Government agencies and key stakeholders to ensure air quality is a key consideration in the development of our community and its transport infrastructure.
Why does air quality need to be monitored?
Monitoring at a local level allows all stakeholders to closely monitor changes in air quality and, over time, provide insights into the level of long-term improvements in air quality and the effectiveness of initiatives that have been undertaken.
At a community level, the provision of localised real time air quality data empowers and enables residents to monitor changes in air quality and to connect.
How does poor air quality affect my health?
Pollutants in the air are caused by natural events (such as bushfires, windstorms and pollen) or human activities (including industrial processes, motor vehicle emissions, use of unpaved roads and wood heaters). Examples of pollutants include gases, chemicals and airborne particles (such as dust and pollen).
Melbourne suffers from four major forms of air pollution including:
- summer smog
- winter smog
- wind-blown dust, and
Smog on summer days arises because of sunlight on airborne chemicals, producing 'photochemical oxidants' such as ozone. Winter smog alert days arise when pollutants (particularly particles) build up around the city and are not blown away.
Fuel combustion and air pollution
Airborne contaminants vary from country to country, depending on a range of factors, including population, industry, climate and the types of fuels burned. In Melbourne, the main source of air pollution is motor vehicle emissions, caused by petroleum combustion. The burning of other fuels, such as gas, wood and coal, also contributes to the quality of our air.
The main pollutants resulting from fuel combustion include carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), particulate matter (minute particles suspended in the air) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).
Indoor air pollution
Research indicates that we spend most of our time indoors, making indoor air pollutants an important risk factor for people’s health. Significant indoor pollutants include:
- cigarette smoke
- heaters and stoves without flues
- faulty or unserviced gas heaters and fuel-burning appliances
- chemical odours from freshly applied paint, glues, cleaners or solvents
- human or animal skin, fur or feathers
- moulds, and
Dust storms and air pollution
Dust storms reduce air quality and visibility and may affect people's health, particularly for those who already have breathing-related conditions such as asthma and emphysema.
What is Council doing to improve air quality?
We recognise that long-term improvements in air quality require a collaborative approach between all stakeholders. Working with the community and Victorian Government agencies, our core areas of advocacy include:
Air quality measures
- advocating for the installation of particulate filtration on ventilation points in the West Gate Tunnel
- increasing the number of air quality monitoring stations throughout the west
- promoting the availability of simple, accessible air quality data and supporting health information
- planting more trees along the West Gate Tunnel corridor with the support of Council’s Urban Forest Strategy
Sustainable practices of industry and government
- working with state government agencies and key stakeholders to promote and develop models to eliminate or reduce air pollution such as user pays models and mechanisms to increase the uptake of low or no emissions vehicles within the transport and logistics industry
- promoting large-scale sustainable practices for clean, green industry and a culture of being a good neighbour and corporate citizen
Victorian Government resourcing priorities
- advocating for the expansion of the EPA and planning an air quality taskforce to focus specifically on issues of dust and odour
- advocating for government funding and commitment to a range of public transport initiatives including ‘travel on demand’ measures, Melbourne Metro 2 implementation and the trial of electric buses in Hobsons Bay
More specific initiatives we are working on include:
- gradually implementing changes in industrial land use requirements for planning permits, such as requiring exposed dirt areas to be sealed to prevent dust transmission
- developing and promoting readily accessible information on air quality and supporting health information
- implementing an Urban Forest Strategy which will increase our urban forest from 7.5 per cent to 30 per cent by 2040
- constructing a virtual solar power plant on Council assets which will generate renewable energy to power Council’s electric fleet vehicles, leading to further reductions in emissions that affect air quality
What can I do to improve air quality locally and in my home?
- Increase use of public transport and alternative zero emission forms of transport, such as electric vehicles and bikes or car sharing
- Cut down or eliminate pollutants in the home such as harsh cleaning products, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and second-hand smoke
- Take steps to control allergens such as dust, mold, pet fur and feathers, and dust mites. This might include the use of an in-home air purifier
- Improve ventilation in your home by regularly changing filters and cleaning air ducts in heating and cooling systems
- Reduce dampness in living areas by using a dehumidifier, turning on fans when showering or cooking, and finding and eliminating areas of pooling water or moisture in your home
- Use indoor plants to help cleanse the air in your home
Where can I get more information on air quality?
More information on air quality and how to protect your health can be found at: