|1||Quinns Rocks, Western Australia|
|3||Gold Coast, Queensland|
|5||Geraldton, Western Australia|
|6||Cannon Hill, Queensland|
|8||Merimbula, New South Wales|
|9||Moruya, New South Wales|
|10||Flinders View, Queensland|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 6 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 1.3 µg/m³|
PM2.5 concentration in Maitland air currently meets the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Open your windows to bring clean, fresh air indoors|
|Enjoy outdoor activities|
|Saturday, Dec 4|
Good 27 US AQI
|Sunday, Dec 5|
Good 3 US AQI
|Monday, Dec 6|
Good 6 US AQI
Good 6 US AQI
|Wednesday, Dec 8|
Moderate 51 US AQI
|Thursday, Dec 9|
Good 40 US AQI
|Friday, Dec 10|
Good 30 US AQI
|Saturday, Dec 11|
Good 20 US AQI
|Sunday, Dec 12|
Good 29 US AQI
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Maitland is a major city of the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, located 35 kilometres north-east from Newcastle, and situated on the Hunter River. Like the rest of Australia and New South Wales, Maitland generally experiences relatively healthy air quality most of the year round, in comparison with global locations. However, it is also prone to experiencing short-term extreme pollution events, most often caused by dust storms and wildfires, both longstanding causes of air pollution in Australia.
The main pollutants of concern within New South Wales, including Maitland, are particulate matter and ozone. This is both due to the health hazards they represent to Maitland residents and the broader population, and also since these pollutants are those which most frequently exceed the Australian national air quality standards, known as the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure, or Air NEPM.1 The NEPM standards were established as a measure for Australia to monitor levels of various pollutants, and try to ensure that these do not exceed a level that increases human health hazards, based on scientific research. Therefore, exceedances of these standards represent some cause for concern. Particulate matter describes tiny airborne particles measuring 2.5 or 10 micrometres in diameter, abbreviated as PM2.5 or PM10 respectively. This form of pollution is particularly hazardous to human health, since the miniscule size of the particles enables them to travel far into the human system once inhaled, entering the lungs and even in the case of PM2.5, going beyond into the bloodstream, causing a range of health effects.
While there is currently no continuous air quality monitoring station located within Maitland to record city’s live air pollution at ground-level, the closest monitoring station lies only approximately 11 kilometres away in Beresfield, also within the Lower Hunter Valley. According to Beresfield’s air quality records, this area of New South Wales ranked as the 4th most polluted in Australia of a list of 95 measured cities for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution during 2019, averaging an annual mean concentration of 13.6 μg/m3.2 For context, this exceeds both the Australian national standard for annual PM2.5 levels (which is a maximum of 8 μg/m3), and the World Health Organisation’s slightly less stringent international guideline of 10 μg/m3. This level of air pollution marks a noticeable increase from the prior years of 2018 (8.7 μg/m3) and 2017 (7.6 μg/m3) in the same location. Such an increase may largely be attributed to the devastating wildfires that blazed across Australia during the “black summer” of 2019-2020, and which worst affected New South Wales of any state in the country. However, Beresfield’s ranking of 4th place even in that unusual year indicates that the area nearby Maitland was particularly hard-hit by the smoke pollution generated from those wildfires by national standards.
IQAir displays live air pollution information within the dynamic Maitland air quality map at the top of this page, using satellite pollution data along with a range of other parameters. The map also includes real-time wildfire updates. These can be followed at any time using the IQAir AirVisual air quality app, along with a 7-day Maitland air quality forecast, to stay on top of changing air pollution levels.
Referring to the closest available historical data for Maitland, coming from nearby Beresfield, this area’s annual average PM2.5 concentration of 13.6 μg/m3 during 2019, ranked as more polluted than the air quality in Sydney that year (10.1 μg/m3), in addition to further afield cities such as London (11.4 μg/m3), and Wellington City in New Zealand (6.7 μg/m3) according to IQAir’s 2019 World Air Quality Report. However, Maitland’s nearby air quality ranked as cleaner than other cities including the Australian capital Canberra’s air quality (15 μg/m3), as well as the French capital Paris (14.7 μg/m3), for context.
Exposure to air pollution can contribute towards a wide range of short- and long-term health impacts, even at low levels such as found in Maitland and New South Wales during most of the year. The World Health Organisation emphasises that there is no known “safe” limit of air pollution, particularly particulate matter, below which no health impacts may be observed.3 Short-term exposure to PM pollution can cause lung inflammation, adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, respiratory symptoms, and aggravation of existing symptoms such as asthma, which can lead to additional hospital admittances. Long-term PM exposure can contribute further to reduced lung function in children and adults, an increase in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diseases such as lung cancer, which can increase risks of reduced life expectancy. Exposure to ozone can also cause a range of short-term effects, including adverse effects on lung function and the respiratory system, inflammatory reactions in the lungs, and increased mortality, while long-term ozone exposure can contribute towards reduced lung function development.1
Major contributors to PM2.5 pollution within New South Wales, encompassing Maitland, include emissions from residential wood heating, vehicle exhausts, electricity generation, coal mining, industry, and planned burns and wildfires, according to the NSW government, based on 2012 data.1 Ozone is not emitted directly from any one source, but rather is a secondary pollutant, meaning that it is created through chemical reactions between other precursor pollutants in the atmosphere, in the presence of sunlight. Such primary pollutants are often nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and due to its creation occurring in sunlight, high ozone levels are most likely to occur on days with sunny, hot conditions, and low breezes. PM pollution can also be formed as a secondary pollutant from other precursor pollutants; a study of air pollution in the Lower Hunter region found that approximately half of PM2.5 concentrations in the region were secondary particles that had been formed by chemical reactions from precursor pollutants.1
The New South Wales government is responsible for managing air quality within the state, and as part of this duty, the NSW government conducts continuous air quality monitoring at key sites statewide. Within the Lower Hunter region, the NSW government monitors air quality at Newcastle, Beresfield and Wallsend, but there is not yet any monitoring station established to monitor Maitland air pollution. Beresfield therefore provides Maitland’s closest live air quality data, located approximately 11 kilometres southeast of the city. The NSW Government and Maitland City Council are also both involved in providing resources to inform the public about Australia’s air quality management policies, including guidance on minimising wood smoke from domestic heating, how to respond to pollution from wildfires, and abiding national regulation restricting open burning practices.
+ Article resources
 NSW Government. “Consultation paper: Clean Air for NSW”. NSW Government EPA website, 2016.
 IQAir. “2019 World Air Quality Report”. IQAir website, March 18, 2020.
 World Health Organisation. “Ambient (outdoor) air pollution”. WHO website, May 2, 2018.