|1||Carnarvon, Western Australia|
|2||Flinders View, Queensland|
|4||North Maclean, Queensland|
|7||Cannon Hill, Queensland|
(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 concentration in Ballarat air currently meets the WHO annual air quality guideline value
| Open your windows to bring clean, fresh air indoors|
| Enjoy outdoor activities|
|Monday, Dec 5|
Good 7 US AQI
|Tuesday, Dec 6|
Good 8 US AQI
|Wednesday, Dec 7|
Good 4 US AQI
Good 2 US AQI
|Friday, Dec 9|
Good 7 US AQI
|Saturday, Dec 10|
Good 15 US AQI
|Sunday, Dec 11|
Good 10 US AQI
|Monday, Dec 12|
Good 5 US AQI
|Tuesday, Dec 13|
Good 5 US AQI
|Wednesday, Dec 14|
Good 5 US AQI
Interested in hourly forecast? Get the app
Located within the Central Highlands area of Victoria, around 120 kilometers north-west of the state capital Melbourne, Ballarat is Victoria’s 3rd most populated city. Like the rest of Australia, the air quality within Victoria, including Ballarat, is relatively healthy most of the year round. However, Ballarat air quality is also vulnerable to experience short-term extreme air pollution spikes which can severely affect air quality, most often due to causes such as forest fires and sand storms, like the rest of the country.
The main pollutants of concern within Victoria state, including Ballarat, are particulate matter and ozone. This is due to these pollutants’ persistent presence in the air, the several sources which contribute to these pollutants, in addition to their potential for significant human health and environmental effects.1 Particulate matter describes microscopic particles suspended in the air, which are less than 2.5 or 10 micrometers in diameter (abbreviated as PM2.5 or PM10 respectively). These are particularly hazardous, since their tiny size enables them to travel deep into the human system when breathed in, entering the lungs and in the case of PM2.5, even beyond into the bloodstream, causing a range of health effects.
While there is currently no specific government monitoring station in Ballarat, the nearest government data is available from nearby city of Melton. According to IQAir’s 2019 World Air Quality Report, Melton’s air quality during 2019 ranked jointly as Victoria’s cleanest location for PM2.5 pollution, together with Werribee, the suburb of Melbourne. Both locations averaged a PM2.5 concentration of 6.4 μg/m3, which achieves Australia’s national annual standard for PM2.5, of 8 μg/m3, as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s annual target for PM2.5, of 10 μg/m3.2 For contrast, Melbourne’s air quality during 2019 was very similar, averaging a PM2.5 concentration of 6.5 μg/m3, and Werribee and Melton rated jointly as Australia’s 30th cleanest city for PM2.5 in 2019, out of 95 measured cities.
In addition to this data, live air quality information is provided using satellite air pollution data within the Ballarat air quality map at the top of this page, which also includes updates on wildfires. This information, along with a 7-day Ballarat air quality forecast, is also available on the move using the IQAir AirVisual pollution app, to stay on top of changing air quality levels.
Air pollution can cause a wide range of both short- and long-term health effects to citizens in Ballarat. Short-term effects of air pollution can include the aggravation of existing conditions such as asthma, coughing, congestion, and irritation of eyes, nose and throat, in addition to reduced visibility increasing risks of traffic accidents. Long-term effects of air pollution exposure can also increase the risk of developing a range of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the risk of premature mortality. Even at relatively low levels such as experienced within Ballarat’s area, air pollution can pose notable health impacts. The World Health Organisation emphasises that there is no known “safe” limit for air pollution, particularly particle pollution, below which no negative health impacts may be observed in people.3
Air pollution in Ballarat, like the rest of Victoria, comes from a mix of human-influenced and natural sources. Emissions from motor vehicles are a significant source of air pollution in Victoria, while major contributors to ambient particulate matter include smoke from bushfires and prescribed burns, wood heaters, and industry, while natural sources such as sea sale and dust also contribute significantly. Ozone is not emitted by any single source, because it is a secondary pollutant: this means that it is created through chemical reactions between other, precursor pollutants in the atmosphere. Ozone is typically produced through a chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrous oxides, in the presence of sunlight. Accordingly, high ozone levels are most likely to occur on days with sunny and hot conditions, with temperatures above 30°C and light breezes.1
An air monitoring study conducted by the Victoria EPA within Ballarat between August 2005 to August 2006 found that visibility levels exceeded Victoria’s daily visibility standard on 30 occasions. The causes for air pollution contributing to this poor visibility were attributed to wood heater smoke during winter (23 out of 30), while 5 occasions were attributed to bushfires, and two days were not attributed to any particular source.1
Locations across Australia are prone to experiencing fires in some form on an annual basis, whether that’s fires directly burning a territory’s land, or experiencing smoke blown in from nearby blazes. Ballarat is no exception to this. Australia fires are most often started through natural causes such as a lightning strike, although they can also be ignited through human interventions such as planned burning, accidental sparks, or arson. Various parts of Australia are most at risk of fires at different points of the year, depending on seasonal weather variations; according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, Ballarat and Victoria are most at risk during the summer and autumn months.4
During the summer of 2019-2020, Australia experienced one of its worst fire seasons on record, which came to be known as the “black summer”. This was particularly severe due to several months of low rainfall, drought and record-breaking temperatures in advance. During the black summer, Victoria was the second worst affected state after neighbouring New South Wales, and Ballarat was exposed to significant smoke from nearby fires, particularly fires in East Gippsland which burned extensively between November 2019 to January 2020.5,6 Such prolonged exposure to intense smoke was a relatively new experience for Ballarat, which can cause severe health impacts, such as aggravated asthma, coughing, shortness of breath, and in the long term, increased risk of developing more serious cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
The Victoria Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is responsible for monitoring levels of air pollution at key locations across the state, in order to track whether Victoria air quality is achieving Australia’s broader air quality standards. These standards, known as the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure (Air NEPM), are designed to benchmark air pollutants at a level to minimise health risks to Australians, based on scientific evidence. However, since August 2006, Victoria’s EPA has not monitored air quality within Ballarat, and there is no active monitoring station in the city. The nearest government monitoring station is instead located at Melton, approximately 70 kilometers away. Critics from the campaign group Environmental Justice Australia argue that Ballarat should also have its air monitored, particularly given its sizeable population within Victoria. Furthermore, given that future population growth is predicted within the city, and worsening climate change trends are expected to exacerbate the sources of air pollution, through increasing road transport, demand for power generation, and higher temperatures potentially further intensifying wildfires, the need to monitor air quality in Ballarat may become more urgent in future.7
+ Article resources
 Victoria EPA. “Air pollution in Victoria – a summary of the state of knowledge”. Victoria EPA website, August, 2018.
 IQAir. “2019 World Air Quality Report”. IQAir website, March 18, 2020.
 World Health Organisation. “Ambient (outdoor) air pollution”. WHO website, May 2, 2018.
 Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology. “Bushfire weather”. Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology website, n.d.
 The Courier. “Skies clear of smoke over Ballarat as wind changes direction”. The Courier, December 23, 2019.
 Michelle Smith. “Bushfire warning for Ballarat”. The Courier, January 6, 2020.
 Jolyon Attwooll. “How clean is the air in Ballarat?” The Courier, February 7, 2019.