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 extremely poor 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. 

 EPA AirWatch categories have changed

We made some changes to EPA AirWatch in January 2021. The 2019-20 bushfire season highlighted the need for consistent PM2.5 categories and advice used across Australia. This was recommended by the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements in October 2020. Consistent categories and advice were developed by states and territories as part of The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee in September 2020. 

 

The changes to EPA AirWatch include:
  • the moderate category is called fair
  • the hazardous category is called extremely poor
  • some category values have changed to reflect the impact of low levels of PM2.5 pollution 
  • minor changes to the wording of advice.
 

Air quality categories and general health advice

Good

  • No change needed to your normal outdoor activities.

Fair

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

For the general community:
  • No change needed to your normal outdoor activities.
For groups sensitive to air pollution:
  • Reduce outdoor physical activity if you develop symptoms like cough or shortness of breath.
  • Consider closing windows and doors until outdoor air quality is better.
  • Follow the treatment plan recommended by your doctor.

 

If you are concerned about symptoms call Nurse On Call on 1300 606 024 or see your doctor.

If you or anyone in your care has trouble breathing or tightness in the chest, call 000 for an ambulance.

Poor

The air is probably dusty or smoky.

For the general community:
  • Reduce outdoor physical activity if you develop symptoms like cough or shortness of breath.
For groups sensitive to air pollution:
  • Avoid outdoor physical activity if you develop symptoms like cough or shortness of breath.
  • When indoors, close windows and doors until outdoor air quality is better.
  • Follow the treatment plan recommended by your doctor.

 

If you are concerned about symptoms call Nurse On Call on 1300 606 024 or see your doctor.

If you or anyone in your care has trouble breathing or tightness in the chest, call 000 for an ambulance.

Very poor

The air is probably very dusty or smoky.

For the general community:
  • Avoid outdoor physical activity if you develop symptoms like cough or shortness of breath.
  • When indoors, close windows and doors until outdoor air quality is better.
For groups sensitive to air pollution:
  • Stay indoors as much as possible with windows and doors closed until outdoor air quality is better.
  • If you feel that the air in your home is uncomfortable, consider going to a place with cleaner air (such as an air-conditioned building like a library or shopping centre) if it is safe to do so.

  • Actively monitor symptoms and follow any treatment plan recommended by your doctor.

If you are concerned about symptoms call Nurse On Call on 1300 606 024 or see your doctor.

If you or anyone in your care has trouble breathing or tightness in the chest, call 000 for an ambulance.

Extremely Poor

The air is probably extremely dusty or smoky.

For the general community:
  • Stay indoors as much as possible with windows and doors closed until outdoor air quality is better.
  • If you feel that the air in your home is uncomfortable, consider going to a place with cleaner air (such as an air-conditioned building like a library or shopping centre) if it is safe to do so.
For groups sensitive to air pollution:
  • Stay indoors with windows and doors closed until outdoor air quality is better and reduce indoor activity.
  • If you feel that the air in your home is uncomfortable, consider going to a place with cleaner air (such as an air-conditioned building like a library or shopping centre) if it is safe to do so.
  • Actively monitor symptoms and follow the treatment plan recommended by your doctor.

 

If you are concerned about symptoms call Nurse On Call on 1300 606 024 or see your doctor.

If you or anyone in your care 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 13 January 2021