NSW Air Quality

21 February 2019

Across NSW  dust, bushfires, pollen, the fossil fuel industry and motor vehicles all contribute to air pollution, but in Sydney motor vehicles contribute the lion’s share of emissions impacting our health.

There are clear links between traffic pollution and cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer and it can affect reproductive, urological and neurological systems.

Vehicles contribute 14% of PM2.5, and 62% of nitrogen oxides to the NSW pollution level, but those built after 2013 emit 97% less oxides of nitrogen than those built in 1976.

In NSW in 1976, there were 2.2 million motor vehicles  and today we have 5.2 million.

Improving the emissions standards for each vehicle has not been enough to reduce pollution rates across NSW.  Vehicle numbers continue to rise, increasing by 2% increase between 2017 and 2018.

The local environment also contributes to how this pollution travels. Sydney’s location within a basin means the cool overnight air moves the pollution from vehicles and industry from the outer Western Suburbs towards the Eastern Suburbs on the sea.

Morning sea breezes then move the pollution back towards the Western Suburbs, creating smog. Without strong wind or rain, this pattern will continue and pollution will build up.  

The build up of pollution can be further exacerbated by heat not being able to escape as the average air temperature increases.

In highly urbanised environments, with little tree cover, this can increase the temperature by a few degrees.  In the City of Parramatta on a summer’s day, the CBD can be sitting at 40 degrees while Parramatta Park is at 30.   

“Air pollution can have flow on effects that impact the whole community. Riding or walking short distances instead of driving, can help reduce motor vehicle pollution and can create a healthier environment,” said General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace.

Bicycle NSW encourages people to switch to bike riding for car journeys under 10 minutes, or commutes to work under 10km.  

Your heart and wallet will thank you, you may get there quicker and you’ll help us all breath easier.