ABC PM report

Your report calling for action on air pollution rightly notes that all major sources should be tackled.  CSIRO identified wood heaters as the biggest source of health-hazardous air pollution in two Hunter Valley towns - Muswellbrook and Singleton.  Additional proof that wood heating is a much greater source of dangerous urban air pollution than mines or power stations is evident from the NSW Government’s Air Quality Index (AQI) that covers all air pollutants. AQI data (together with a link to the NSW Govt download site) have been compiled for Armidale, a NSW town where about half of households use wood heaters compared to sites in central Sydney (Rozelle and Macquarie Park), the Hunter Valley (Muswellbrook and Singleton) - http://aaqg.3sc.net/files/OEH_Site_AQI_Arm_Hunter_Sydney_2018_todate.xls

 There's a huge increase in the AQI at the NSW Government monitoring site in Armidale in mid May, as soon as residents start to use wood heaters, after which Armidale is much more polluted than Sydney or the Hunter.

 A Federal Government Scoping paper explained in 2009: “Governments have been unable to achieve improvements to national wood-heater emission standards due to industry veto in Standards Australia processes” - http://woodsmoke.3sc.net/files/EHPC_NationalApproach_Reducing_WoodheaterEmissions_ScopingPaper.pdf

 Environmental and health organizations are now pushing to change this totally unacceptable situation.  A Technical Governance Review of Standards Australia in April 2018 recommended reforms, advising that Standards Australia should act in the public interest, that vested interests can dominate standards development, and that external confidence is being undermined by a lack of transparency - www.standards.org.au/getmedia/8f14c324-1e71-4f9a-8479-2b9937280941/2018_0404-SA_TGR-Final-Report.pdf.aspx

 Asthma Australia, Environmental Justice Australia and the Australian Air Quality Group are supporting a proposal to develop new health-based standards for wood heaters, to replace the current lax requirement to pass an emissions test that bears almost no relationship to real-life emissions, and leads to estimated health costs over $5,000 per heater per year in Sydney and Melbourne - http://aaqg.3sc.net/files/Proposal-Form-Standards-Development-Projects_Wood_heaters_26Aug.doc

 Better regulation of the wood heating industry, like the banks and the electricity sector, will yield tremendous public benefits.  Even in Sydney, where less than 5% of households use wood as the main form of heating, an estimated 25% of pollution-related premature deaths are due to wood heating pollution - http://woodsmoke.3sc.net/syd

 Hunter Valley residents should join with residents throughout Australia to demand better regulations from government, including (as explained in the proposal to Standards Australia) an end to the $20 billion health cost of wood heater pollution.  

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