Department of Health

Air Quality Monitoring

  • 14 August 2017
  • Duration: 3:10
  • When responding to smoke events emergency service organisations need to know how and when air quality monitoring should be triggered so we can effectively manage the community health and safety impacts.

    When an incident starts, emergency services may set up first responder air monitoring to get indicative readings of the levels of airborne hazards in the area.

    In the meantime we can provide general health protection advice for the community, such as shelter indoors.

    And for certain types of fires, pre-approved messages in the first 24 hours.

    We can also call on a range of other support services, like plume modelling, to help predict smoke impacts.

    During complex, significant, or prolonged smoke events, or other incidents that produce emissions that could affect community health or safety, EPA Victoria may be asked to provide expert advice.

    The data we get from incident air monitoring, along with on the ground observations, first responder monitoring data, and modelling, helps EPA to determine the level of community health risk, and the right health advice to issue during an incident.

    This data also helps us to assess community health risks, and decide whether more community air monitoring is needed.

    If further air monitoring is necessary, the EPA state duty officer is contacted as per joint standard operating procedure and asked to deploy equipment.

    EPA then shares vital information with the incident management team, the chief health officer, and other relevant agencies and stakeholders.

    EPA will provide an initial air quality report including any local monitoring and observations before equipment is sent out.

    Initially small, portable, fine particle monitors can be sent out from thick SES locations across the state.

    The EPA can also deploy more specialised fine particle monitors and equipment for other error missions of concern.

    Relocatable air monitoring stations for long duration incidents may be deployed in the following days.

    Information like weather conditions, population centres, topography, the type of hazard, attack strategies, and advice from the incident controller - helps determine the best place to set up the equipment.

    Once set up, monitors need to collect at least 45 minutes of data before a reading will show up.

    This data can take up to two hours to reach EPA's air watch website which then updates hourly.

    EPA generally requires 24 hours of data before specific public health messages about fine particles and smoke can be provided.

    Air monitoring continues until there is no longer a risk to community health and safety.

    For more information about how smoke and other emissions incidents are managed in Victoria, you can consult the state smoke framework and associated standards and JSOPS.

    Visit the EMCOP library to find out more and Help keep our communities safe around smoke.

When responding to smoke events emergency service organisations need to know how and when air quality monitoring should be triggered so we can effectively manage the community health and safety impacts. Watch the video to find out how the air quality monitoring system works.

Reviewed 14 August 2017

Health.vic

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