The community is concerned about air pollution. Smog can damage lung and bronchial tissue, cause eye irritation, coughs, headaches and respiratory illness, increase asthma and cause cancers. In New South Wales, 400 people die each year as a result of particulate pollution and around Australia there are up to 1,000 deaths a year from this cause. The Greens (WA) recognise the concerns of the community and are committed to solving the air quality problems.
The Greens (WA) want:
- the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to provide continuous ambient air monitoring for all air toxins and pollutants identified under Perth's Air Quality Management Plan (July 2000) at local and regional locations
- independent third party auditing of all DEC ambient air monitoring in local and regional locations
- regulatory control of industrial emissions monitoring and regular auditing by the DEC (including petrol stations)
- all emitting industries to implement World's Best Practice Management Plans which have been approved by a peer review process and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through enforced licence conditions
- all new emitting industrial proposals to conduct health impact assessments in conjunction with environmental impact assessments
- industry licences to demonstrate use of world best practice technology for treatment of emissions and programs for environmental audits
- industry to pay an environmental health bond wherever there is a potential for pollution
The Greens (WA) will initiate and support legislation and actions that:
- immediately implement all recommendations of the Perth Air Quality Management Plan (July 2000)
- develop and implement air quality management plans for regional areas
- increase funding for research and development into cleaner, renewable energy sources, including solar power and wind generation (see also The Greens (WA) Climate Change & Energy Policy)
- support legislation similar to the New South Wales Clean Air (Control of Burning) Regulations 1995 to restrict open fire burning
- review the Department of Environment and Conservation's controlled burn practices
- require annual vehicle checks funded by fuel taxes to remove polluting vehicles from the roads, including assistance to low income earners to enable compliance
- provide cheap and accessible public transport (see also The Greens (WA) Transport Policy)
Perth already has significant air pollution from photochemical smog, haze and other chemicals. As of 1998 carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, photochemical oxidants, sulphur dioxide and particulates have all exceeded national guidelines for the protection of public health.
The two major contributors to air pollution are vehicles and industrial emissions. In particular, cars generate about 90% of carbon monoxide and industry generates the majority of reactive organic compounds, sulphur dioxide and particulates.
The decline in Perth’s air quality has become a major environmental health issue. The Perth community has responded overwhelmingly in favour of a full, integrated approach to bring about an immediate reversal of air quality decline.
The effects of particle exposure on health, including respiratory symptoms, show the smallest particles, particulate matter (PM) 2.5, are the most damaging. Many PM 2.5 particles are produced during coal-fired power generation (Source: William M. Castleden, David Shearman, George Crisp and Philip Finch, ‘The Mining and Burning of Coal: Effects on Health and the Environment.’ MJA 195 (6) 19 September 2011).