Nitrogen Dioxide spikes at Haberfield School – an Ecotech error or a national exceedance?
By Wendy Bacon,
By Wendy Bacon, Luke Bacon and Henare Degan
In our first four reports on Air quality, we focussed on fine Particulate Matter - PM 2.5 and PM10.
Under NSW Department of Planning and Enviroment's (DPE) conditions of approval for the M4 East tunnel, WestConnex also monitors two other pollutants - Nitrogen Dioxide ( NO2) and Carbon Monoxide ( CO).
Nitrogen Dioxide spikes at Haberfield School
Last Saturday afternoon, we noticed something unusual on the Ecotech monitor. Since early Friday morning, the NO2 levels had been very high at Haberfield School. So high it fact, that national standards had been exceeded.
The major source of nitrogen dioxide is the burning of fossil fuels: coal, oil and gas. Most of the nitrogen dioxide in urban areas comes from motor vehicle exhaust or off-road equipment. Manufacturing can also contribute.
The national limit for NO2 is 0.12 parts per million (ppm) over one hour. The average yearly limit is 0.03 ppm.
Exceedances are rare in Australian cities in recent years, although this may be explained by a lack of monitoring in spots where combustion of fuel is highest. It was predicted for example, that there would be some exceedances along the WestConnex widened M4 in Sydney but because there is no monitoring, we don't know if that is the case since the widened M4 opened or not.
Short periods of exposure to high levels of NO2 can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, leading to symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or difficulty in breathing) and hospital admissions. Longer exposures to elevated concentrations of NO2 may contribute to the development of asthma and potentially increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. People with asthma, as well as children and older people are generally at greater risk for the health effects of NO2
( For more information on NO2 visit US EPA ).