The Australian Government's Clean Air Research Program (CARP) provided $1.4 million over 2005 – 2008 to support practical research that directly informs national air quality management. CARP addresses some of the major research gaps in the management of air quality in Australia. Its overall objective is to support and facilitate research activities that will underpin policies and management actions to minimise the human health impacts of air pollution.
To meet this objective, CARP provided funding support for quality research that:
- Has a strong public good focus
- Is applicable nationally, ie is not specific to a particular region
- Addresses the impacts of air pollution in Australia by improving our ability to:
- Understand the major sources and health effects of air pollutants
- Manage air pollution, particularly in the major population centres
- Provides decision-makers with the tools and methods necessary for the development of cost-effective and efficient policies and management actions that address the impacts of air pollution
- Can be readily used by decision-makers for the development of air quality policies and management actions.
A Technical Assessment Panel (TAP), consisting of research and policy experts from government and scientific agencies, assessed project proposals from Australian and New Zealand researchers. Following assessment, 13 projects that best met CARP objectives were selected for funding:
Air pollutant chemistry - implications for source management
- Sources of ozone precursors and atmospheric chemistry in a typical Australian city
- Development of tools for the identification and quantification of secondary organic aerosol in Australian cities
- Studies of the secondary organic aerosol component of PM 2.5 arising from the NEPM air toxic precursors, toluene and m-xylene
- A methodology for determining the impact of climate change on ozone levels in an urban area
Exposure assessment - are we really measuring what we're breathing?
- Assessment of different approaches to determining personal exposure
- Development of metrics for individual exposure assessment to traffic related air pollution
- Urban-scale population exposure: does chemical transformation need to be considered?
- Towards the integration of bioanalytical tools for air pollution assessment, regulation and management
Major sources of air pollution in Australia
- Particles, ozone and air toxic levels in rural communities during prescribed burning seasons
- Assessing vehicle air pollution emissions
- Measurement of real-world PM10 emission factors from woodheaters by in-situ source monitoring and atmospheric inversion methods
Tools to assist in the development of air quality management strategies
- A methodology for cost-benefit analysis of ambient air pollution health impacts
- Community based participatory research guide for air quality management
A workshop was held in Canberra on 16 October 2008 to present the findings of research funded through CARP. Workshop participants included policy managers and researchers from Australia and New Zealand. The workshop identified a range of research priorities to assist the future management of air quality in Australia. Significant policy issues arising from CARP research include:
- Climate change is predicted to lead to a significant increase in ozone levels by 2020 and 2050, to the point where current ozone management strategies may not be adequate to meet AAQ NEPM ozone standards. Hospitalizations as a result of ozone exposure are predicted to increase by 200% in 2050 as a result of climate change. New strategies may, therefore, be needed to reduce ozone levels in Australia's major cities.
- Secondary organic aerosols (SOA) are a significant contributor to urban air pollution, particularly on days where the AAQ NEPM PM standards are not exceeded. Therefore, air quality management actions aimed at reducing PM should take into account emissions of SOA precursors, in addition to primary PM emissions.
- Biogenic emissions, especially isoprene, are a significant contributor to urban SOA and ozone. However, the exact relationship between biogenic and anthropogenic precursors in forming SOA and ozone is poorly understood.
- Bioassay analysis determined that the gas component of urban air samples is more toxic than the particle component, and indoor air samples were more toxic than roadside samples for a number of samples. These results challenge current thinking on the impacts of air pollution.
- Woodheaters are a significantly higher contributor to urban PM pollution than current inventories suggest. The NPI emission factor for woodheaters needs to be revised to reflect this and the Australian/New Zealand Standard test method for woodheaters should also be revised.