Published On: February 28th, 2023

Get wind of this – in 2022 NSW recorded the best air quality in 30 years, as reported by the NSW Annual Air Quality Statement. This comes as a great relief following the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires, which resulted in a catastrophic 900 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere and subsequent damage to the ozone layer.

According to the statement, “pollutant levels were within national standards 100% of the time in many NSW regions during 2022” including all Sydney regions. Alongside this statistic, there were “no extreme pollution days in 2022, defined as days where any pollutant levels exceed twice the national standard”. This is a substantial improvement from 2020, which saw 24 extreme air pollution days following the bushfires and subsequent dust storms.

So, what has caused such a drastic and optimistic change? This year the East Coast of Australia, including NSW, has once again experienced the ‘La Niña’ phenomenon where rainfall increases alongside cooler daytime temperatures. For many Australians, this cycle has disrupted plans of a dry summer, alongside increasing threats of flooding and storm frequency.

However, whilst the persisting La Niña has created treacherous conditions throughout 2022 and into the new year, the wetter months have contributed to an increase in air quality. Ruby Kan, Department Acting Director of Climate and Atmospheric Science stated that “cooler, wetter weather due to the third consecutive La Niña climate event was a major factor as there were less bushfires, hazard reduction burns and windblown dust”.

Therefore, 2022’s climate allowed the air quality in NSW to recover, and it’s hoped that the NSW Clean Air Strategy 2021-2030 can continue to encourage air quality improvements. And don’t forget – we can all play an important role in reducing atmospheric emissions. Remember to recycle, limit energy use, and keep the number of trips in your car to a minimum.

More information and hourly updated air quality data can be found on the NSW Department of Planning and Environment website.

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