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Air Quality in the Sydney Metropolitan Region during the 2013 Blue Mountains Wildfire

Category: MAPS: Wild Fire

Volume: 18 | Issue: 9 | Pages: 2420-2432
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2017.10.0427
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Rupak Aryal 1, Dom Kafley1, Simon Beecham1,2, Lidia Morawska3

  • 1 Natural and Built Environments Research Centre, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes 5095, SA, Australia
  • 2 Division of Information Technology, Engineering and the Environment, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes 5095, SA, Australia
  • 3 Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland 4001, Australia

Highlights

Air quality data across New South Wales during wildfire used to know dispersion.
PM10 and PM2.5 crossed national guideline values in the Sydney during a wildfire.
Ozone concentrations increased during the wildfire.
PM2.5 and ozone concentrations were positively correlated during the wildfire.


Abstract

Australia commonly experiences extensive wildfires, mostly during its hot dry summers. These often lead to a significant loss of life and property. The October 2013 Blue Mountains Fire burnt through more than 100,000 hectares and generated a large amount of fire dust that was transported to the downwind community residing in the Sydney metropolitan area, which is the largest city in Australia. Record-breaking temperatures in New South Wales and strong winds worsened the wildfire danger index, and the extensive fires that broke out by 17th October lasted for more than a week. Analysis of the particulate matter monitored by the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority around the fire zone showed that the concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 increased by more than twofold (> 200%) and remained high for a week. During the peak fire period, SOx, NOx and O3 concentrations increased by 52%, 29% and 42%, respectively, above the usual levels recorded in metropolitan Sydney. The increase in the concentrations of these air contaminants in the Sydney metropolitan region over such an extended period may have caused increased human health risks, which are also examined in this paper.

Keywords

Wildfire Wind-transported PM10 PM2.5 SOx NOx Ozone


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