|2||New Norfolk, Tasmania|
|9||Katherine, Northern Territory|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 2 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 0.4 µg/m³|
PM2.5 concentration in Brisbane air is currently 0 times above the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Open your windows to bring clean, fresh air indoors|
|Enjoy outdoor activities|
|Friday, Sep 24|
Good 30 US AQI
|Saturday, Sep 25|
Good 45 US AQI
|Sunday, Sep 26|
Good 21 US AQI
|Monday, Sep 27|
Good 20 US AQI
Good 2 US AQI
|Wednesday, Sep 29|
Good 12 US AQI
|Thursday, Sep 30|
Good 25 US AQI
|Friday, Oct 1|
Good 34 US AQI
|Saturday, Oct 2|
Good 21 US AQI
|Sunday, Oct 3|
Good 16 US AQI
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The capital of Queensland state on Australia’s east coast, and the country’s 3rd most populated city, Brisbane generally experiences relatively healthy air quality year-round, in comparison with other global major cities. However, similarly to many locations in Australia, Brisbane air quality is also prone to experience short-term extreme pollution events which frequently exceed the national limits for daily air pollution exposure, such as dust storms or bushfires.1 Both these short-term extreme pollution events, and the low levels of background air pollution that are present in the air year-round, present significant health hazards to Brisbane’s 2.5 million residents.
The main pollutants of concern in Brisbane are particulate pollution (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone (O3).1 Particle pollution, or particulate matter, is made up of tiny airborne particles of either 2.5 microns or 10 microns in diameter (abbreviated to PM2.5 or PM10 respectively). PM is known to be especially hazardous to human health, because its microscopic size enables the particles to penetrate deep into the human system, and even the bloodstream; while the chemical composition of PM can vary, often it contains toxic elements that can cause a range of health effects.
Live Brisbane air quality information can be viewed at the top of this page within the dynamic air quality map, which features real-time wildfire information alongside Brisbane air pollution updates and a 7-day air quality forecast.
In 2019, Brisbane air quality ranked as Australia’s 35th most polluted city out of 95 measured cities, according to IQAir’s 2019 World Air Quality Report.2 Its annual average PM2.5 concentration in 2019 was 8.1 μg/m3, just exceeding Australia’s national annual target of 8 μg/m3, although this still achieves the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommended annual guideline for PM2.5, of 10 μg/m3. 2019’s measurement shows a slight increase from previous years’ PM2.5 levels, which averaged 7.2 μg/m3 in 2018, and 6.4 μg/m3 in 2017.2 The slight increase during 2019 could partly be attributed to the particularly severe bushfires that swept Australia during the summer of 2019-2020, which affected Brisbane along with several other areas, particularly Queensland’s neighbouring state of New South Wales.3
Brisbane’s 2019 average PM2.5 level ranked the city as cleaner than other Australian major cities Canberra (15 μg/m3), Sydney (10.1 μg/m3), but more polluted than Melbourne (6.5 μg/m3).
The majority of air pollutants in Brisbane are generated from motor vehicles, bushfires and the burning of vegetation, domestic heating (e.g. using wood heaters in homes), paint fumes and emissions from industry.4 Of these sources, emissions from motor vehicles are particularly significant, estimated to contribute over 70% of the city’s overall air pollution. With predicted population growth within Brisbane in future, vehicle kilometres travelled are estimated to increase 30% by 2026, therefore mitigating air pollution emissions from vehicles is a high priority for Brisbane air pollution management.
Brisbane’s particulate matter emissions are commonly generated by wildfires, in addition to other sources such as road transport and industry; while nitrogen dioxide is often generated from road vehicles and industry. Brisbane’s unique geography also makes the city particularly vulnerable to ozone generation, if air quality sources are poorly managed. The capital of Queensland state, the coastal city of Brisbane sits between the Gold Coast to the north and Sunshine coast to the south, while inland it is hemmed in by the Great Dividing Range of mountains. These mountains and islands surrounding the city from the coast create a basin, in which ozone can easily form and linger.1
Australia has long experienced wildfires during its summer months, with an established fire season. Bushfires can be started naturally, by a lightning strike, or through human intervention, either through planned burning measures, an accidental human-made spark, or through malicious arson.5 However, there are some signs of Australia’s wildfires worsening over time, in line with global increasing temperatures due to climate change. Australia’s bushfires were particularly destructive during the summer of 2019-2020, due to a prolonged summer of record-breaking temperatures and prolonged drought, which had a severe knock-on impact onAustralia air quality.5 While these bushfires worst affected the state of New South Wales, followed by Victoria, there were also more limited fires burning causinghaze in Queensland and around Brisbane.6 Furthermore, the smoke generated from Queensland’s own domestic fires was intensified due to smoke from neighbouringNew South Wales air pollution, which was drawn in to mingle with Brisbane smoke by wind currents.7 On 11 November 2019 in the thick of some of these wildfires, several stations around the South East Queensland area surrounding Brisbane had 24-hour average PM2.5 concentrations ranging between 80.9 μg/m3 up to 126.7 μg/m3, with the worst readings reported from Woolloongabba (126.7 μg/m3), Southport (124.1 μg/m3), and South Brisbane (113.1 μg/m3).7 For reference, this exceeds both the WHO’s and the Australian national standard for 24-hour PM2.5 exposure, which is a matching limit of 25 μg/m3, by 3 to 5 times over.8
Brisbane City Council runs a network of seven air quality monitoring stations around the city, located in the Central Business District (CBD), Cannon Hill, Lytton, Rocklea, South Brisbane, Woolloongabba, Wynnum and Wynnum West.9 These sensors monitor a range of 6 main criteria pollutants that pose hazards to human health: carbon monoxide (CO), NO2, particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), sulphur dioxide (SO2), ozone, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Brisbane City Council then communicates these readings to the public using a Clean Brisbane Air Quality Index. The Brisbane AQI follows the Queensland Air Quality Index system, which adopts the nationwide logic of calculating AQI numbers as a percentage of the national standard for different pollutants. Australia’s standards are known as the National Environment Protection Measure for Ambient Air Quality (NEPM). Under this system, an AQI level of “100” represents 100% of the maximum permitted amount of the specified pollutant; and numbers above 100 represent an exceedance of the national standard. The highest measurement of any given pollutant measured at a given location, will determine that location’s overall AQI number. The Queensland AQI’s color-coded scale begins with ratings of 0-33, indicating ‘Very good’ air quality, up to >150, indicating ‘Very Poor’ air quality.10 The Brisbane air quality index therefore aims to communicate air pollution numbers in an easy-to-understand single measure of health hazard, that enables the public to react quickly and take measures to protect health when necessary.
+ Article resources
 Brisbane City Council. “Why air quality is important”. Brisbane City Council website, April 22, 2020.
 IQAir. “2019 World Air Quality Report”. IQAir website, March 18, 2020.
 Justine Calma. “What you need to know about the Australia bushfires”. The Verge, Feburary 13, 2020.
 Brisbane City Council. “How you can contribute to clean air”. Brisbane City Council website, April 30, 2020.
 BBC. “How did Australia fires start and what is being done? A very simple guide.” BBC website, January 7, 2020.
 Nadja Popovich, Denise Lu and Blacki Migliozzi. “Here’s Where Australia’s Destructive Wildfires Are Burning”. New York Times, January 13, 2020.
 Leonie Mellor, Rebeka Powell. “Queensland fire emergency leaves Brisbane’s air quality worse than Beijing”. ABC News Australia, November 12, 2019.
 Australian Government. “National air quality standards: Ambient air quality (2016). Australian Government website, 2016.
 Brisbane City Council. “Real-time air quality index”.Brisbane City Council website, September 10, 2020.
 Queensland Government. “Air quality index”. Queensland Government website, August 12, 2020.