Community monitoring draws national attention to coal stockpile health hazard

Clean Air Queensland, an alliance of community groups, today announced the results of their community air quality monitoring study at the Jondaryan stockpile, to coincide with a feature report on the national program The Project.

Using industry-standard air quality monitoring equipment, members of Clean Air Queensland monitored particle pollution levels beside the coal stockpile. The equipment measures respirable particles of ten microns in diameter (PM10). With expert assistance to deploy the monitoring equipment and analyse the data, Clean Air Queensland is today launching their report ‘Off the Scale: Peak pollution events at the Jondaryan coal stockpile’.

The report reveals that PM10 pollution levels in the area, just 550 metres from the nearest home in Jondaryan, peak at over 6000 micrograms per cubic metre. This is compared to the national standard of 50 micrograms per cubic metre over a 24 hour average



“Particulate pollution causes asthma, lung cancer and respiratory illnesses, and has recently been classified by the World Health Organisation as a carcinogen. It’s time for the Queensland Government to start protecting the health of our communities,” epidemiologist Dr Andrew Jeremijenko said today.

“Coal dust is a major source of particulate pollution, which kills more Australians each year than car crashes. We’ve found evidence of regular extreme peaks in particulate pollution at the stockpile and we’re concerned about the health impact this is having on local residents. Families here, and all along the coal dust corridor to the port in Brisbane, are being impacted by coal dust,” Clean Air Queensland spokeswomen Hannah Aulby said.

“The Queensland Government is supporting plans to double the amount of coal travelling from Jondaryan through Ipswich, Toowoomba and Brisbane suburbs to the port. Coal dust is a serious health hazard at current levels, and any expansion plans will put more families and communities living along the coal dust corridor at risk,” said Oakey resident Peter Faulkner.

"Our independent community monitoring at the Jondaryan stockpile shows that there are peak pollution events happening regularly every day. The QRC report released yesterday pays no attention to peak events, even though we know that peak levels of exposure can be damaging to people's health," Ms Aulby said

"We know that all additional particulate pollution has an impact on human health. If QRC were concerned about the community’s health, they would be implementing world's best practice dust mitigation including covering coal trains and coal stockpiles, as recommended by the Federal Senate Inquiry into Health Impacts of Air Pollution," said Ms Aulby.

“We’re calling on the Queensland Government to take this health concern seriously. We need a commitment to cover the coal trains and stockpiles, and stop any increases in uncovered coal train traffic through Brisbane,” Ms Aulby concluded.

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