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Air monitoring equipment
EPA monitors air quality at a number of locations around the state. These monitors provide EPA and the Victorian community with information on the concentration of pollutants in the air.
EPA uses different types of air monitors for different purposes:
- General condition monitors provide EPA with information on general air quality and pollution happening over a large area.
- Local condition monitors tell us about local air quality and pollution issues.
- Incident air monitors are set up to respond to major pollution events.
Read more about the equipment and software in EPA’s air monitoring network.
Watch a video (YouTube) to learn what happens inside one of EPA’s air monitoring stations.
Monitoring ambient air quality
EPA’s ambient air quality network is made up of general condition monitors.
General condition monitors are strategically placed around the state and form the foundation of EPA’s monitoring network. Some monitors are fixed and some are mobile. EPA has been monitoring ambient air quality at some locations, such as Alphington, Footscray and Traralgon, for more than 30 years.
EPA uses the air quality data collected at these stations to report annually on Victoria’s ambient air quality. This is done by assessing the data against the national air quality standards, known as the Ambient Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM). These standards are incorporated into the State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP – Ambient Air Quality).
Monitoring local air quality
EPA has a limited number of local condition monitors placed in communities where there is a specific pollution concern. Currently there is a local condition monitor in Brooklyn, which is part of EPA’s campaign to improve air quality in the Brooklyn Industrial Precinct. EPA operates local condition monitors for varying periods of time, depending on the specific pollution concern.
Monitoring during major pollution events
EPA can deploy incident air monitoring equipment when emergency services request this. The portable equipment allows us to provide localised air quality readings to the incident controller.
The data collected by the incident air monitors provides useful information about the impacts of a pollution event. It is used to make decisions about what EPA and other agencies do next. Data collected by some incident air monitors is also shown on EPA AirWatch.
Reporting air quality information
EPA is committed to its role of monitoring and reporting of air quality data to the Victorian community.
We do this in several ways:
- a daily forecasting service posted on our home page
- our Twitter account: @EPA_Victoria, where all forecasts have the hashtag #airquality
- through EPA AirWatch, which is updated hourly and shows data collected from our monitoring stations
- by reporting annually on Victoria’s ambient air quality as part of our obligation under the National Environmental Protection Measure (Ambient Air Quality).
People unable to access our website are encouraged to call EPA’s call centre 24/7 on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) for the latest EPA data on air quality.
What EPA does when an air monitor shows a high reading for airborne particles
If an air monitor shows a high reading, EPA will investigate to understand what could be causing the reading.
We investigate by doing some or all of the following things:
- compare the data from the monitors with other air monitors in the area
- mobilise EPA staff to observe air quality in the area or examine the air monitors
- consult with other government agencies, such as the Country Fire Authority (CFA) or Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), that may have additional information.
If there’s an issue with poor air quality, EPA will:
- inform the community and relevant government agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services; update the information in EPA’s online air quality bulletins; and inform media outlets
- investigate, if necessary, the extent and cause of the air quality issue, and determine whether it’s happened before and whether communities will be impacted
- do more monitoring to complement the air monitor if required.
If there’s a problem with the monitor, EPA will put up a notice on our website explaining the situation, and temporarily remove the affected data from the website.
A community panel designed an air monitoring sensor network for the Latrobe Valley in collaboration with EPA.
The sensor network covers a broad area of the Latrobe Valley and uses a range of different types of monitors that can be moved to adapt to changing circumstances.
Sensor sites allow us to get an indication of air quality in more areas, but do not provide correct information when humidity is high (for example, during fog). Sensor site information is not displayed on EPA AirWatch when humidity at the site is above 80 per cent. If sensors are not available or showing poor or very poor air quality, please double check the result with a nearby standard site or self-assess air quality.
Visit the Latrobe Valley air monitoring co-design page for information on the process to design the sensor network.
Read our Particle sensors fact sheet (publication 1745) to learn more about particle sensors and how they work.
Air quality cameras
There are cameras installed at Callignee, Hernes Oak and Tyers. These help monitor for signs of visible air pollution, such as dust and smoke, in the Latrobe Valley.
EPA’s role in planned burns
Planned burning involves lighting fires under carefully managed conditions to reduce the risk of bushfire. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria undertake planned burning across Victoria, particularly on public land such as forests.
DELWP usually monitors smoke impacts during planned burns and can request that EPA deploy its incident response air monitoring equipment. EPA can also provide information on air quality forecasting when requested.
This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 24 June 2019.
Reviewed 14 September 2020