The Australian Government has taken decisive measures in recent years to protect the atmosphere, and will continue working to improve the quality of air in urban areas and to promote the recovery of the ozone layer.

Australia's standards for air quality, whether already established or under development, represent world best practice in dealing with the threat air pollution poses to our health.

The focus is now on improving fuel quality and reducing vehicle emissions, transport options that reduce pollution without impacting on access and mobility, management of wood heater emissions and the monitoring and management of fine particle pollution.

Air quality

Air quality issues confronting our towns and cities are being addressed through a comprehensive package of programmes underpinned by research and public education.

Key strategies implemented to improve air quality include the National Environment Protection Measure on ambient air quality, and the development of national fuel quality standards.

The impact of air toxics is a significant environmental issue. These are gaseous, aerosol or particulate pollutants which are present in the air in low concentrations but which may be a hazard to human, plant or animal life. They are emitted from a wide range of sources, including combustion processes. Motor vehicles are a dominant source. While all Australians are exposed to some level of air toxics, the highest concentrations are found in urban areas.

National strategies to manage air toxics and indoor air quality are considered in the State of Knowledge Report on Air Toxics and Indoor Air Quality. This report provides a basis for informed community debate on developing management options for the major air toxics.

Fuel quality

Fuel quality standards are in place for petrol, diesel, biodiesel and LPG. A further standard is in place to ensure consumers are informed when they purchase ethanol blended fuel. The Australian Government has an ongoing compliance and enforcement program to ensure that fuels supplied in Australia meet the fuel standards.

Ozone Depleting Substances and Synthetic Greenhouse Gases

Australia continues to lead the world in phasing out and managing ozone depleting substances and their synthetic greenhouse gas replacements. The Government supervises the orderly phase-out of ozone depleting substances in accordance with Australia’s commitments under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Government is also working on the management of the end uses of ozone depleting substances and their synthetic greenhouse gas replacements - in areas such as fire protection, refrigeration and air-conditioning, and fumigation.