|4||Geraldton, Western Australia|
|10||Carrington, New South Wales|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
1:05, Jan 24
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 2 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 0.5 µg/m³|
PM2.5 concentration in Toowoomba air currently meets the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Open your windows to bring clean, fresh air indoors|
|Enjoy outdoor activities|
|Friday, Jan 21|
Good 1 US AQI
|Saturday, Jan 22|
Good 0 US AQI
|Sunday, Jan 23|
Good 1 US AQI
Good 2 US AQI
|Tuesday, Jan 25|
Good 21 US AQI
|Wednesday, Jan 26|
Good 23 US AQI
|Thursday, Jan 27|
Good 16 US AQI
|Friday, Jan 28|
Good 14 US AQI
|Saturday, Jan 29|
Good 14 US AQI
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Toowoomba is a regional city located approximately 125 kilometres west of Brisbane, within Queensland state. While Toowoomba Region spans almost 13,000 square kilometres, this encompasses Toowoomba City along with the regional centres of Cambooya, Cecil Plains Clifton, Crows Nest, Goombungee among others. Like the rest of Australia, Queensland, including Toowoomba, generally experiences relatively healthy air quality most of the year round. However, Toowoomba can also be vulnerable to occasional extreme air pollution events, most often caused by natural events such as wildfires and dust storms.
Queensland government is responsible for monitoring the state’s air quality at key locations, to try to ensure that air pollution levels do not exceed Australia’s national air quality standards, known as the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air) Measure (Air NEPM). The government monitors the levels of several different types of air pollution, including particle pollution, visibility, carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Among these, the main pollutants of concern within Queensland are particulate matter (PM). PM describes microscopic airborne particles which are less than 2.5 or 10 micrometres in diameter, abbreviated to PM2.5 and PM10 respectively. These tiny particles are particularly hazardous to human health, since their miniscule size enables them to penetrate deep into the human system when inhaled, entering the lungs, and in the case of PM2.5, beyond into the bloodstream. This can cause a range of health effects. Furthermore, PM pollution is also the pollutant which most frequently exceeds the Australian NEPM standards, which are designed to provide guidelines to minimise health impacts on Australians, based on scientific evidence.1 Frequent exceedances by a particular pollutant therefore gives reason for concern.
Current conditions are displayed in the real-time Toowoomba air quality map at the top of this page, which also reports live wildfire updates. These are viewable at any time using the IQAir AirVisual air pollution app, along with a 7-day Toowoomba air quality forecast.
The main sources of air pollution in Queensland are emissions from motor vehicles and industrial activities, in addition to natural events such as fires and dust storms. In particular, particle pollution is significantly affected by contributions from dust storms, and smoke from wildfires and planned burning, as well as smoke from domestic and commercial wood heaters in Toowoomba.1,2
Exposure to air pollution can cause a wide range of health effects, even at low levels such as found in Queensland. Short-term effects of air pollution exposure can include irritation of eyes, nose and throat, along with aggravation of conditions such as asthma. Air pollution exposure can also contribute to long-term effects such as increased risk of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, such as stroke, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and premature death. Despite Australia’s air pollution levels being relatively low, studies have found that even slight elevations in Australian cities’ air quality can lead to notable health impacts. One Australian study on air pollution encompassing Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney’s air quality in 2005 found that a 10 μg/m3 elevation in PM2.5 concentrations was associated with a 1% increase in the daily total number of deaths, even in these cities’ relatively low-pollution environments.3
Like the rest of Australia, Toowoomba is prone to experience fires in some form on an annual basis, either directly, with fires reaching Toowoomba’s land, or indirectly, by experiencing windblown bushfire smoke from nearby. Different parts of Australia are vulnerable to highest fire risk at different points of the year, based on seasonal weather changes. Toowoomba’s are in southern Queensland is most prone to high fire risk following the dry winter and spring seasons, with the most dangerous conditions occurring when low-pressure systems near Tasmania bring hot and dry winds towards the coastal districts. This area’s fire season typically ends when moister conditions arrive, which sometimes onset as a result of a tropical cyclone near the coastline.4
During the summer of 2019-2020, Australia experienced one of its worst fire seasons on record, known as the “black summer”. The black summer’s fires were particularly destructive, due to several months of record breaking temperatures, drought and low rainfall in advance. During the black summer, Queensland was affected by several fires, a number of which affected Toowoomba directly. In mid-November 2019, Queensland fires encroached upon Toowoomba region, resulting in at least two towns (Pechey and Ravensbourne) within 40 kilometres of Toowoomba city receiving urgent evacuation orders to escape from imminent blazes.5
While the direct impacts of wildfires are devastating, the indirect health impacts caused by widespread wildfire smoke is estimated to be even more dangerous. A study published in theMedical Journal of Australia estimated that while the black summer’s wildfires tragically resulted in 33 direct deaths, over 400 more premature deaths were caused via exposure to smoke from the wildfires, along with more than 3,000 additional hospitalisations for cardiorespiratory issues and over 1,300 extra hospital admittances for asthma attacks.6
Toowoomba’s air quality is managed by both the Queensland State government, as well as Toowoomba Regional Council’s local government. While Queensland Government is responsible for air quality monitoring across key locations in the state, there is no government monitoring station in Toowoomba. However, air quality information is reported by community air quality sensors within Toowoomba, and this is complemented on the IQAir platform by satellite air quality data.
Toowoomba Regional Council is responsible is empowered to enforce parts of Australia’s environmental legislation relating to air pollution nuisances. These may include dust nuisances coming from vacant, residential or commercial land; and smoke from backyard burning or chimneys on residential and commercial land.6 However, other forms of air pollution nuisances, such as bushfire smoke, smoke from vehicles, and cigarette smoke, are devolved to Queensland state government to govern.2
+ Article resources
 Queensland Government. “Particulate concentrations”. Queensland Government State of the Environment website, February 12, 2020.
 Toowoomba Regional Council. “Air pollution (dust, light, odour, smoke)”. Queensland government website, August 10, 2018.
 Climate and Health Alliance. “Inquiry into the impacts on health of air quality in Australia”. Climate and Health Alliance website, March, 2013.
 Queensland Government Bureau of Meteorology. “Bushfire weather”. Bureau of Meteorology website, n.d.
 Toby Crockford. “Urgent evacuation order for life-threatening fire near Toowoomba”. Brisbane Times, November 15, 2019.
 John Pickrell. “Smoke from Australia’s bushfires killed far more people than the fires did, study says”. The Guardian, March 20, 2020.