|2||Heathfield, South Australia|
|3||Perth, Western Australia|
|9||Katherine, Northern Territory|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
City AQI based on satellite data. No ground level station currently available in Ballina.
Be the first to provide air quality data in Ballina.Become a contributor
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 9 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 2.1 µg/m³|
PM2.5 concentration in Ballina air currently meets the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Open your windows to bring clean, fresh air indoors|
|Enjoy outdoor activities|
Good 9 US AQI
|Sunday, Oct 17|
Good 13 US AQI
|Monday, Oct 18|
Good 14 US AQI
|Tuesday, Oct 19|
Good 18 US AQI
|Wednesday, Oct 20|
Good 17 US AQI
|Thursday, Oct 21|
Good 10 US AQI
Interested in hourly forecast? Get the app
Ballina is a town close by the north coast of New South Wales, in the state’s Northern Rivers region, situated on the Richmond River. As part of New South Wales and like much of the rest of Australia, Ballina generally experiences relatively healthy air quality most of the year round, in comparison to global locations. However, as with much of the country, Ballina is also vulnerable to experiencing short-term extreme air pollution events, most frequently caused by phenomena such as bushfires and dust storms, which can temporarily elevate air pollution levels significantly.
The main pollutants of concern within New South Wales, incuding Ballina, are particulate matter and ozone. Particulate matter describes miniscule airborne particles measuring less than either 2.5 or 10 micrometres in diameter – for context, PM2.5 is therefore equivalent in size to approximately one thirtieth of the width of a human hair. These particles are known to be particularly hazardous to human health due to their miniature size allowing them to penetrate far into the human system once inhaled, entering the lungs and in the case of PM2.5, moving beyond into the bloodstream, causing a range of health effects. While the NSW government monitors levels of a range of key pollutants, including PM, ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and visibility (which can act as an indicator of smoke), PM and ozone are of greatest concern because these pollutants most frequently exceed the Australian national air quality standards.1 Known as the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure (Air NEPM), these standards are established for Australia to benchmark its air quality against levels deemed to minimise health risk to Australians. Therefore, exceedances of these standards represents some cause for concern.
Live air quality information is displayed within the Ballina air quality map at the top of this page, which also includes current wildfire updates. This information can also be followed on-the-go using the IQAir AirVisual air pollution app, along with a 7-day Ballina air quality forecast, to stay on top of changing conditions.
Exposure to air pollution can cause a wide range of short- and long-term health effects, even when at relatively low levels such as found in Ballina and New South Wales. Exposure to particle pollution can cause short-term effects such as irritation of eyes, nose and throat, coughing, shortness of breath, and aggravation of existing conditions such as asthma. Long-term effects can include an increased risk of developing respiratory diseases such as lung cancer and increased chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is an umbrella term for a group of lung conditions causing breathing difficulties including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Accordingly, when air pollution levels may be temporarily elevated due to events such as bushfires, people are generally advised to limit outdoor physical activity to reduce inhalation, and vulnerable people such as children, the elderly, and those with existing conditions such as asthma are advised to take particular care to reduce their exposure.
The main contributors to New South Wales air pollution, including Ballina, in the form of PM2.5 include emissions from coal mining, residential wood heating, vehicle exhausts, electricity generation, industry, and prescribed burning and bushfires, according to the NSW government.1 It is worth noting that in the case of bushfires, fire smoke can travel long distances, and Ballina can be exposed to smoke generated from fires nearby, without experiencing the fires directly itself.
Australia has long experienced wildfires, with an established fire season every year. Australian fires are most frequently started as a result of natural causes, such as a stroke of lightning; however, human actions are also often the cause, either through accidental actions such as an unintended spark, or deliberately, through hazard reduction burns or arson. During 2019-2020, Australia experienced one of its worst fire seasons on record, largely due to several months of drought, low rainfall and record-breaking temperatures in the months preceding the season. This led to exceptionally hot and dry conditions which, when coupled with strong winds, enabled fires to thrive and spread. This season came to be known as Australia’s “black summer”, and Ballina was not excepted in being exposed to heavy smoke pollution as a result of the fires. During October and November 2019, fires spread nearby to the north and south of Ballina, with a particularly large set of fires blazed southwards around Grafton.2
Live wildfire and related air pollution information for Ballina and its surroundings are displayed within the Ballina air quality map at the top of this page.
Ballina’s air quality is managed by both the New South Wales government, as well as the local Ballina Shire Council. Statewide regulation of air quality is put in place by the NSW government’s Environment Protection Agency (EPA), to try to meet Australia’s broader national air quality objectives. One example of statewide regulation is the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010, which includes guidelines for identifying air pollution offences, and responsible burning. For example, the legislation states that ‘an air pollution offence is not created when vegetation is burnt for agricultural practices’. This is relevant to Ballina’s area, since the Northern Rivers region has been a growing area for sugar cane since the 1860s, and these crops have been burnt prior to harvesting since 1935 – however, smoke from this agricultural activity therefore is not regulated as an air pollution offence by the state nor council.3 The North South Wales state government and Ballina Shire Council also provide resources and information to support responsible installation and use of wood heaters to minimise excessive smoke, while the Ballina Shire Council also implements a local policy on Backyard Burning to support the objectives outlined in the state’s 2010 Clean Air Regulation. If Ballina residents are found to breach the town’s local backyard burning policy, the Council has authority to fine them up to $1000 AUD.3
The New South Wales government is responsible to monitor air quality levels across the state, to try to ensure that the state’s air quality achieves the national NEPM standards, and take remedial actions where necessary to improve air quality. To do this, the NSW government has deployed a network of air monitoring stations at key locations statewide. However, there is so far no government monitoring station in Ballina to provide live governmental data. Yet, in the absence of government monitoring, community air monitoring using low-cost sensors has been established, and real-time data from these community sensors are reported through the IQAir platform above.
+ Article resources
 NSW Government. “Consultation paper: Clean Air for NSW”. NSW Government EPA website, 2016.
 Nick Evershed, Andy Ball. “How Australia’s bushfires spread: mapping the east coast fires”. The Guardian, January 10, 2020.
 Ballina Shire Council. “Air pollution”. Ballina Shire Council website, n.d.