Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) CEO Nial Finegan has assured people attending a community meeting in Terang (11 April) that it will continue to monitor air quality near peat fires in southwest Victoria and provide real time reports to the public via its AirWatch website www.epa.vic.gov.au/EPAAirWatch
Mr Finegan, who was with EPA Chief Environmental Scientist Dr Andrea Hinwood and other senior emergency services leaders at the meeting, said EPA had nine air monitoring stations assessing air pollutants at locations around Camperdown, Lake Cobrico, Cobden and Lake Elingamite.
Poor air quality had increased health risks forcing many locals to move from the area.
"Air quality has improved considerably due to the efforts of the fire agencies. EPA has assessed our monitoring approach and will make changes to where we monitor and at how many sites while ensuring that we are still able to understand the real-time air quality close to the peat fires and in nearby Cobden,” said Mr Finegan.
“Community members and emergency service workers need to be aware of the risks of peat smoke and EPA air monitoring provides is a vital service they can use to stay informed,” he said.
“It is important community members remain focused on their personal health and seek out appropriate advice for them.”
Look at your location, the amount of smoke in the area and consider potential risks to your health. You can use the guide developed by EPA and DHHS to determine your individual risk, and decide on what action you should take. The guide and associated peat smoke proximity maps are available on http://www.emergency.vic.gov.au/relief/#recovering_from_a_bushfire