Air quality in Townsville

Air quality index (AQI) and PM2.5 air pollution in Townsville

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Queensland Government, Department of Environment and Science

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What is the current weather in Townsville?

Weather icon
WeatherScattered clouds
Wind13.8 mp/h
Pressure29.9 Hg

live aqi city ranking

Real-time Australia city ranking

#cityUS AQI
1 Spencer Gulf, South Australia


2 Perth, Western Australia


3 Brisbane, Queensland


4 Newcastle, New South Wales


5 Townsville, Queensland


6 Broken Hill, New South Wales


7 Canberra, ACT


8 Wollongong, New South Wales


9 Adelaide, South Australia


10 Armidale, New South Wales


(local time)


live Townsville aqi ranking

Real-time Townsville air quality ranking

#stationUS AQI
1 North Ward


2 Lennon Drive


3 Coastguard


4 Environment Park


(local time)


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What is the current air quality in Townsville?

Air pollution levelAir quality indexMain pollutant
Good 19 US AQIPM2.5

PM2.5 concentration in Townsville air currently meets the WHO annual air quality guideline value

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What is the current air quality in Townsville?

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Townsville air quality index (AQI) forecast

DayPollution levelWeatherTemperatureWind
Wednesday, Apr 17

Good 21 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon
82.4° 73.4°
Wind rotating 83 degree 13.4 mp/h
Thursday, Apr 18

Good 22 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon
82.4° 71.6°
Wind rotating 77 degree 11.2 mp/h
Friday, Apr 19

Good 22 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon
82.4° 75.2°
Wind rotating 73 degree 11.2 mp/h

Good 19 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon 80%
84.2° 73.4°
Wind rotating 64 degree 11.2 mp/h
Sunday, Apr 21

Good 8 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon 100%
80.6° 69.8°
Wind rotating 80 degree 8.9 mp/h
Monday, Apr 22

Good 5 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon 60%
78.8° 66.2°
Wind rotating 100 degree 15.7 mp/h
Tuesday, Apr 23

Good 4 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon 60%
80.6° 69.8°
Wind rotating 104 degree 15.7 mp/h
Wednesday, Apr 24

Good 5 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon
80.6° 68°
Wind rotating 101 degree 13.4 mp/h
Thursday, Apr 25

Good 5 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon 50%
80.6° 68°
Wind rotating 68 degree 8.9 mp/h
Friday, Apr 26

Good 6 AQI US

Human face indicating AQI level
Weather icon 50%
78.8° 71.6°
Wind rotating 82 degree 13.4 mp/h

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How bad is Townsville air quality?

Townsville, the largest urban centre in Australia northwards of the Sunshine coast, lies on the northeast coast of Queensland state, approximately 340 kilometres south of Cairns. Townsville faces Australia’s offshore Magnetic Island, and is situated adjacent to the central section of the Great Barrier Reef, with a dry tropical climate. Similarly to the majority of Australia, Townsville experiences relatively healthy air quality most of the year round, in comparison to global locations – but the city is also vulnerable to experience occasional extreme air pollution events, most often caused by natural events such as dust storms and wildfires. The Queensland government is responsible for monitoring the state’s air quality, including Townsville, and it focuses on monitoring the following key pollutants: particulate matter (including PM2.5, PM10, and total suspended particles (TSP)), visibility, carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and sulphur dioxide (SO2).1

Of these, the main air pollutant of concern in Queensland is particulate matter (PM). PM pollution describes microscopic airborne particles, less than 2.5 or 10 microns in diameter, abbreviated as PM2.5 or PM10 respectively. These pollutants are of particular concern within Queensland for two reasons: firstly, these pollutants are particularly hazardous to human health, since their miniscule size enables them to penetrate deep into the human system once inhaled, even entering the bloodstream in the case of PM2.5. This then causes a wide range of health effects. Secondly, PM also represents the pollutants which most frequently exceed Australia’s national air quality standards, known as the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure (Air NEPM). The NEPM standards are designed to limit air pollution at a level to minimise health impacts to Australians, based on scientific evidence; therefore, frequent exceedances represent cause for concern.

Live air quality information can be viewed within the Townsville air quality map at the top of this page, along with real-time wildfire updates. These can be viewed on-the-go using the IQAir AirVisual air pollution app, along with a 7-day Townsville air quality forecast.

How does Townsville’s air quality compare to other parts of Queensland?

Within IQAir’s 2019 World Air Quality Report, Townsville ranked as Queensland’s 4th cleanest city for PM2.5 pollution, averaging an annual concentration of 6.5 μg/m3. This average achieves Australia’s annual air quality standard for PM2.5 of 8 μg/m3, as well as the World Health Organisation’s slightly less strict annual PM2.5 target, of 10 μg/m3. Townsville’s air quality was beaten only by the Queensland towns of Moranbah (4.1 μg/m3), Charters Towers (5.9 μg/m3) and the city of Mount Isa (6.3 μg/m3). For broader Australian context, Townsville averaged the same asMelbourne’s air quality for PM2.5 during 2019 (6.5 μg/m3), but less than Brisbane (8.1 μg/m3) and less than half ofCanberra’s air pollution during 2019 (15 μg/m3).2

What are the health impacts of air pollution in Townsville?

While Townsville experiences a relatively low level of air pollution most of the time, even very low concentrations of air pollutants can have some health effects. The World Health Organisation emphasises how there is no known “safe” limit below which air pollution has been shown to have no negative health impacts.3 Exposure to air pollution can result in both short- and long-term effects on human health. Short-term impacts can include feeling irritation in eyes, nose and throat, while long-term effects of exposure to air pollution can include an increased risk of developing respiratory or cardiovascular disease. These can include the collective group of lung conditions known as chronic pulmonary obstructive disorders (COPD; encompassing bronchitis and emphysema), lung cancer, as well as higher risk of stroke, and premature mortality.

What are the main sources of air pollution in Townsville?

The main contributors to Townsville air pollution are emissions from motor vehicles and industrial activities, in addition to natural sources such as wildfires and dust storms. Particle pollution in particular is most significantly affected by contributions from dust storms, and smoke from bushfires, agricultural burning and hazard reduction burning, within Queensland state.4

Is Townsville affected by the fires in Australia?

Like the rest of Australia, Townsville is vulnerable to experiencing fires to some extent on an annual basis; either directly, by blazes reaching Townsville itself, or indirectly, by experiencing windblown smoke from nearby fires.Australia fires are most often started naturally, for example through a lightning strike, although they can also be started by human intervention, either accidentally (such as through an accidental spark), or deliberately, through planned burning or arson. Different parts of Australia are most vulnerable to fire risk at different parts of the year, depending on seasonal weather changes. Much of Queensland’s east coast, including Townsville, is most at risk of fire during the spring, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meterorology.5 Real-time fire information can be followed within the Townsville air quality map at the top of this page.

What is Townsville doing about air pollution?

Queensland Government is responsible to monitorQueensland’s air quality at key sites across the state, in order to try to ensure that air quality meets Australia’s Air NEPM standards, and take remedial actions where necessary. Australia’s air quality standards are among the strictest in the world for particulate matter pollution: the Australian annual target for PM2.5 is a concentration below 8 μg/m3, which is lower than both the WHO’s annual target (10 μg/m3), the United States’ annual target of 12 μg/m3, and the European Union’s target of 25 μg/m3. Queensland government has established 4 air quality monitors around Townsville, at the sites of North Ward, Coastguard, Environment Park, and Lennon Drive.1

Does Townsville use an air quality index?

The Queensland Government follows Australia’s broader Air Quality Index (AQI) system to communicate Townsville air quality readings to the public in an easy-to-understand way. The Townsville air quality index expresses different pollutant levels as a percentage of that pollutant’s respective NEPM standard; therefore, a Townsville AQI of 100 represents a pollutant level equivalent to its NEPM standard, and an AQI of 300 would represent an exceedance threefold. At sites where multiple pollutants are monitored, whichever pollutant has the highest AQI number will dictate that location’s overall AQI. The Queensland AQI uses a color-coded scale to quickly communicate varying levels of health hazard, with 0-33 representing “Very good” air quality (blue), up to 150+ representing “Very poor” air quality (deep red).6 In this way, the Queensland government strives to simplify air quality data into actionable health advisories, so Queenslanders and those in Townsville easily understand how to respond to air quality events.

+ Article resources

[1] Queensland Government. “Live Air Data”. Queensland Government Department of Environment & Science (DES) website, n.d.
[2] IQAir. “2019 World Air Quality Report”. IQAir website, March 18, 2020.
[3] World Health Organisation (WHO). “Ambient (outdoor) air pollution.” WHO website, May 2, 2018.
[4] Queensland Government. “Particulate concentrations”. Queensland Government State of the Environment website, February 12, 2020.
[5] Australia Government Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). “Bushfire weather”. Australian Government BOM website, n.d.
[6] Queensland Government. “Air Quality Index”. Queensland government website, August 12, 2020.

Townsville air quality data attribution


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