EPA AirWatch uses five categories to describe the overall air quality at each of our monitoring sites across Victoria.

We also show an air quality category for each pollutant we measure at a site. A poor, very poor or hazardous category tells you when the level of a pollutant is higher than its air quality guideline or standard.

Our general health advice for each category includes steps you can take to protect yourself from the short-term effects of air pollution. 

Air quality categories and general health advice

Good

It's a good day to be outside.

Moderate

The air quality is okay, but it could change soon.

It’s okay to be outside but watch for changes in air quality around you. 

Poor

The air is probably dusty or smoky. Sensitive groups may experience symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath.

  • If you are sensitive to air pollution, spend less time outside in the smoke or dust and follow your treatment plan. Reduce prolonged or heavy physical activity.
  • If you are coughing or short of breath, avoid being outside in the smoke or dust.
  • Close your windows and doors to keep smoke and dust out of your home.
  • If you are worried about your symptoms, see your doctor or call Nurse On Call on 1300 606 024.
  • Seek urgent medical help if anyone has trouble breathing or tightness in the chest. Call 000 for an ambulance.

Very poor

The air is probably very dusty or smoky. Everyone could be experiencing symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath.

  • Listen to your local emergency radio station or visit Emergency Vic for advice.
  • Avoid being outside in the smoke or dust. Reduce prolonged or heavy physical activity.
  • If you are sensitive to air pollution, follow your treatment plan. Avoid physical activity outdoors.
  • Close your windows and doors to keep smoke and dust out of your home.
  • If you think the air in your home is uncomfortable, consider going to an air-conditioned building like a library or shopping centre for a break if it’s safe to do so.
  • If you are worried about your symptoms, see your doctor or call Nurse On Call on 1300 606 024.
  • Seek urgent medical help if anyone has trouble breathing or tightness in the chest. Call 000 for an ambulance.

Hazardous

The air is probably extremely dusty or smoky. Everyone could be experiencing symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath.

  • Listen to your local emergency radio station or visit Emergency Vic for advice
  • Stay indoors away from smoke and dust.
  • If you are sensitive to air pollution, follow your treatment plan. If you can, remain indoors and keep physical activity levels as low as possible.
  • Close your windows and doors to keep smoke and dust out of your home.
  • If you think the air in your home is uncomfortable, consider going to an air-conditioned building like a library or shopping centre for a break if it’s safe to do so.
  • If you are worried about your symptoms, see your doctor or call Nurse On Call on 1300 606 024.
  • Seek urgent medical help if anyone has trouble breathing or tightness in the chest. Call 000 for an ambulance. 

Read more about monitoring and forecasting air pollution

About EPA AirWatch

People sensitive to air pollution

How we calculate air quality categories

How we forecast air quality

Accreditation of EPA air quality monitoring

Smoke and your health

Reviewed 2 January 2020