EPA monitors a range of pollutants with known health impacts. Air quality objectives are set in the State Environment Protection Policy (Ambient Air Quality) for seven common pollutants.

The policy specifies both objectives and goals.

Objectives are quantifiable characteristics of the air against which air quality can be assessed (typically a pollutant concentration). The objectives are set at levels that protect beneficial uses, including:

  • human health and wellbeing
  • visibility
  • aesthetic enjoyment
  • local amenity.

Goals in the policy specify the maximum permissible number of exceedances of the objectives per year and a timeframe in which this goal was to be met (by 2008). The goals guide the formulation of strategies for the management of human activities that may affect the environment.

Air quality reporting 

EPA prepares an annual air monitoring report that assesses our compliance with the air quality policy. Specific air quality monitoring reports are also available by searching in our publications database.















Air toxics monitoring campaign 2005–09

Between 2005 and 2009 EPA conducted an air quality monitoring campaign to better understand pollutants known as air toxics. We gathered information on concentration and distribution of air toxics as part of a national program under the National Environment Protection (Air Toxics) Measure, or NEPM.

We found that:

  • concentrations of air toxics are generally low
  • concentrations are below the health-based NEPM monitoring investigation levels.

The information gathered will be used to set new national air quality standards for air toxics. See the National Environment Protection and Heritage Council website for more relevant health and legislative information on air toxics.

We monitored these air toxics:

  • benzene 
  • benzo(a)pyrene (a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon or PAH) 
  • formaldehyde 
  • toluene 
  • xylene (as a total of the meta, para and ortho isomers).

These compounds (commonly found at low levels in the atmosphere) concern us because of their toxicity. They are present in petrol, some solvents, vehicle exhausts and smoke from wood heaters, and as emissions from industry.

We monitored the following sites:

  • Eltham and Mooroolbark, suburbs where wood heaters are commonly used
  • Newport and Spotswood, two sites close to petrol storage facilities
  • Carlton and South Melbourne, two sites beside major roads
  • Campbellfield, a site beside a major truck route
  • Traralgon, a regional centre located near major power generators.

How EPA monitored for air toxics

The NEPM specifies that the air toxics should be monitored for 24-hour periods once every six days for 12 consecutive months, or once every three days during two seasons (winter and summer). The monitoring should be done at locations where it is likely that levels will be elevated and there will be significant population exposure.

Air toxics monitoring sites

  • Corio campaign projects: Four locations selected in the Corio region to measure the impact of a major refinery on air quality.
  • Roadside projects: Sites where a mobile air monitoring station was used for shorter term ‘hotspot’ monitoring near busy roads.
  • NEPM projects: The eight sites (listed above) were chosen for one-year monitoring of air toxics for the NEPM program.

We have also completed monitoring at the existing Alphington, Footscray and Altona North air monitoring stations.

EPA’s other air toxics monitoring work

EPA has monitored air toxics as part of other projects, including:

  • Springvale Road in Nunawading, to measure traffic impacts near a busy intersection Westgate Freeway in Brooklyn to measure traffic impact from a freeway Schools in Corio to measure the impact of petrol refining
  • Tullamarine Landfill, to measure the effect of the landfill on air toxics
  • Dandenong South, to measure the effect of industry on air toxics.

Read next

How EPA monitors air quality in Victoria

About air quality and air pollution

EPA AirWatch


This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 17 January 2019.

Reviewed 16 September 2020