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Senate Inquiry sounds alarm on air quality

Media Release
Richard Di Natale 16 Aug 2013

A Greens-initiated Senate Inquiry into the health impacts of air quality has today reported its findings.

The inquiry, which heard from community members, industry and environmental protection agencies, describes systematic failings in air quality standards, monitoring and enforcement.

“The report confirms that Australia must do much more to protect the community from the health impacts of air pollution such as coal dust,” said Greens Senator Di Natale, a former GP and public health professional who moved the inquiry.

“The Greens referred this inquiry because air pollution kills people and we care about protecting people's health.

“Australian air quality standards are weak, and in the case of dangerous ultra-fine particles we have no standards at all. These are the particles that can get deep into our lungs and lead to chronic lung disease or cancer.

“We need to do a much better job of actually monitoring our air quality. We're actively excluding those communities most at risk from high levels of pollution who live near the source. People need to know what's in the air they and their children are breathing.

“Given the severe health impacts of coal dust, it's no surprise that the report recommends health impact assessments for new mining developments and the covering of coal trains that spread dust in populated areas.”

Senator Di Natale joined Australian Greens lead Senate candidate for New South Wales, Cate Faehrmann, in Newcastle today, the site of the inquiry’s first hearing.

“I’ve been to people's houses and seen the coal dust on the windowsill. I've heard their distress,” said Ms Faehrmann.

“No government has taken action on this issue. Only the Greens are standing up for the health of the citizens of Newcastle and around the country.”

The full report can be accessed here:

Media Contacts
Andrew Blyberg (Senator Di Natale) - 0457 901 600
Kate Ausburn (Cate Faehrmann) - 0447 657 689

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