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Creating an Integrated Historical Record of Extreme Particulate Air Pollution Events in Australian Cities from 1994 to 2007


Johnston, FH and Hanigan, IC and Henderson, SB and Morgan, GG and Portner, T and Williamson, GJ and Bowman, DMJS, Creating an Integrated Historical Record of Extreme Particulate Air Pollution Events in Australian Cities from 1994 to 2007 , Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 61, (4) pp. 390-398. ISSN 1096-2247 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2011 Air & Waste Management Association

DOI: doi:10.3155/1047-3289.61.4.390


Epidemiological studies of exposure to vegetation fire smoke are often limited by the availability of accurate exposure data. This paper describes a systematic framework for retrospectively identifying the cause of air pollution events to facilitate a long, multicenter analysis of the public health effects of vegetation fire smoke pollution in Australia. Pollution events were statistically defined as any day at or above the 95th percentile of the 24-hr average concentration of particulate matter (PM). These were identified for six cities from three distinct ecoclimatic regions of Australia. The dates of each event were then crosschecked against a range of information sources, including online newspaper archives, government and research agency records, satellite imagery, and aerosol optical thickness measures to identify the cause for the excess particulate pollution. Pollution events occurred most frequently during summer for cities in subtropical and arid regions and during winter for cities in temperate regions. A cause for high PM on 67% of days examined in the city of Sydney was found, and 94% of these could be attributed to landscape fire smoke. Results were similar for cities in other subtropical and arid locations. Identification of the cause of pollution events was much lower in colder temperate regions where fire activity is less frequent. Bushfires were the most frequent cause of extreme pollution events in cities located in subtropical and arid regions of Australia. Although identification of pollution episodes was greatly improved by the use of multiple sources of information, satellite imagery was the most useful tool for identifying bushfire smoke pollution events.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Pollution and contamination
Research Field:Pollution and contamination not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Air quality, atmosphere and weather
Objective Field:Air quality, atmosphere and weather not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Johnston, FH (Professor Fay Johnston)
UTAS Author:Hanigan, IC (Mr Ivan Hanigan)
UTAS Author:Henderson, SB (Associate Professor Sarah Henderson)
UTAS Author:Portner, T (Miss Talia Portner)
UTAS Author:Williamson, GJ (Dr Grant Williamson)
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:69802
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:27
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2011-05-18
Last Modified:2012-05-31
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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