Physicians join calls for stronger national air pollution standards to prevent harm to health

August 23, 2019

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has joined calls by leading health and environmental groups across Australia to tighten existing restrictions on dangerous air pollutants to prevent illness and death. Air pollution contributes to asthma, heart disease, lung disease and cancer.

Associate Professor Linda Selvey, President of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine and RACP spokesperson, says the time for national action on air pollutants is well overdue.

“Australia’s air pollution limits haven’t changed in 21 years. Our current air pollution restrictions far exceed the recommendations set by the World Health Organisation, so we must take urgent action to protect our community.”

“We know for a fact that nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone in ambient air are harmful to the health of Australians. It has been estimated that over 3,000 premature deaths a year are caused by ambient air pollution in Australia.”

In Australia, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide are largely released from vehicle emissions and coal-fired power generation respectively.  

“We urge the Government to adopt the recommendations set out by leading experts including lowering the threshold for nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone exposure, as well as making air quality monitoring data publicly available. Australian air quality standards should also include compliance and enforcement measures.”

The call comes as state and federal environment ministers prepare to review the National Environment Protection Measure (Ambient Air Quality) (NEPM)

Close overlay