Visibility-reducing particles

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Key finding

Overall there has been a downward trend in the number of days with reduced visibility throughout Queensland over the past decade although significantly more days were affected in 2009 and 2011, due to bushfires.

A build-up of fine airborne particles can reduce how far we can see through the air. The Environmental Protection (Air) Policy 2008 provides a visual amenity objective of 20km. This means it should be possible on a fine day to see an object at a distance of 20km.

Reductions in visibility are largely attributable to burning activities such as combustion in motor vehicles and industry, bushfires and the fine particles resulting from photochemical smog formation. While bushfires and dust storms can also affect the Mackay and Ayr (Burdekin) regions, smoke from cane burning in the Burdekin and from trash burning in the Mackay region also can reduce visibility.

While fewer days have exceeded Air EPP goals since 2000 overall, all regions experienced a higher number of days of exceedence in 2009 and 2011. This was true of South East Queensland in 2012 also. These exceedances are attributable to a large number of grass fires and bushfires.

In 2014, cane burning during the sugar cane harvest season saw Ayr experience exceedences from June through to November.

More information:

Indicator: Trends in number of exceedences of Air EPP goal for visibility-reducing particles

Trends in number of exceedences of Air Environmental Protection Policy (EPP) goal for visibility-reducing particles by airshed for 2000-2014.

Download data from Queensland Government data