Assistance & advice
Air pollution has the potential to not only impact on human health and the environment, but can also effect a person's everyday life or working environment, by affecting their amenity. Dust and odour are the main causes of environmental nuisance from an air quality perspective.
Not all air quality issues fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA. Some air quality issues are managed by other organisations, as indicated below. In those instances, the EPA is often requested to provide advice, particularly at the development phase.
If you have a nuisance issue, it is often best to approach the responsible person or party directly to try and resolve the issue, before registering a complaint with the appropriate agency or organisation. The responsible person or party may not even be aware that their actions or operation of certain plant and equipment are having an off-site impact, and they may be more than happy to modify their actions in the interests of being a good neighbour.
If you happen to be the cause of an air quality complaint, it is usually in your best interests to work with the affected party/parties to reach an appropriate outcome and avoid the risk of enforcement action. Issues that are resolved in this way usually result in friendlier relationships with those being affected.
Where there is still an ongoing issue, the agencies or organisations listed may be able to help.
Smoke from domestic heating
One of the main sources of complaints about pollution from domestic premises is wood smoke from solid fuel heaters, which can cause a significant nuisance problem for neighbours if heaters are not operated efficiently, due to emissions being highly odorous and irritating. Wood smoke also contributes to regional fine particle levels, potentially exposing wider populations to poor winter air quality and the associated health impacts.
Burning in the open
Smoke from burning in the open can also cause nuisance problems for neighbours as well as add to fine particle levels. In most parts of metropolitan Adelaide and in some regional areas, burning by open fire or in a domestic incinerator is prohibited. There are a few exceptions to this, including fires within a dwelling, fires principally for the purposes of preparing food or beverages or burning charcoal in a brazier for the purpose of heating an outdoor area.
For further information refer to the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016. Burning of some substances are of particular concern as emissions are highly toxic. Examples include timber treated with copper chromium arsenate and plastics, where burning is strictly prohibited. For further information or to make a complaint contact the local council.
Environmental odour can be considered as a nuisance, and stronger or persistent odours can lead to nausea, headache, loss of sleep and other symptoms of stress. An offensive odour is one that affects an individual’s general health and wellbeing as a result of the intensity, character, frequency and duration. Offensive odours can restrict outdoor activities, limit the opening of windows and generally create an unpleasant environment to live in.
The EPA ensures that licensed industrial and commercial facilities take all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent nuisance odour.
Some commercial establishments can also be a source of complaints due to smoke and odour nuisance, for example take-away food establishments, coffee roasters and service stations.
For further information or to make a complaint contact the local council.
Industrial facilities may or may not be licensed by the EPA, depending on whether they are a scheduled activity under the Environment Protection Act 1993. If a facility is licenced by the EPA, you can contact the EPA to obtain more information regarding that facility. If a facility is not licenced by the EPA contact the local council where the facility is located.
At present SA Police are authorised under the Road Traffic Act 1961 to observe and report vehicles for alleged breaches of the '10-second rule'. The SA Police use this rule as a basis for issuing defect notices on the spot. Contact SAPOL Traffic Watch on 131 444.
The main pollutants from construction sites are usually dust and noise. Construction activities are expected to comply with the general environmental duty (section 25) of the Environment Protection Act 1993 and, as such, all reasonable and practicable efforts must be made to minimise release of dust and potential impacts due to these activities.
Contact the EPA for further information.
Mining is regulated under the Mining Act 1971 by the Department of State Development (DSD). The EPA licences activities under the Environment Protection Act 1993, where extractive industries and ancillary infrastructure to mining is included (e.g. chemical works, port facilities, crushing, milling and grinding). Air quality enquiries and complaints about mining activities generally relate to particles and nuisance dust.
Contact either DSD or the EPA for further information.
Aircraft and airports
Adelaide and Parafield Airports are regulated at the national level under the Airports Act 1996 and the Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997, this includes air quality management. This legislation is administered by the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, who also administer the Air Navigation (Aircraft Engine Emissions) Regulations which apply to emissions from specified aircraft engines. The EPA does not regulate emissions from aircraft during flight.
Contact the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development or Airservices Australia for further information. The Airservices Australia website also has some useful information about aviation, including about condensation trails (contrails).
The EPA licenses some aerodromes and helicopter landing facilities (see Schedule 1 of the Environment Protection Act 1993), and can be contacted for further information about these facilities.
Climate change and greenhouse gases
In South Australia, climate change is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. South Australia also has the Premier’s Climate Change Council whose primary role is to provide independent advice to the Minister about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.
The Government of South Australia website has some useful information about climate change in South Australia and how we can all play a part in tackling and adapting to a changing climate.
Other aspects of climate change are managed at the national level, the Department of the Environment (Commonwealth) also has some useful information.
For further information contact the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
Health impacts of air pollution
The EPA works very closely with SA Health on a number of state based initiatives, including the development of the Air Quality Framework for South Australia, and SA Health provides expert scientific advice to the EPA on human health matters, including those related to air quality.
For further information about the health impacts of air pollution contact SA Health.
Indoor air quality
Indoor air refers to the air inside buildings such as homes, schools, shopping centers, restaurants, public buildings, and offices. Poor indoor air quality has the potential to adversely impact our health.
The EPA doesn’t have jurisdiction over indoor air quality matters. For information and advice about indoor air quality, including indoor or occupational health monitoring information, contact the Public Health Division of the Department of Health and Ageing (SA Health).
Alternatively, contact the University of Adelaide’s School of Public Health, or an occupational consultant/hygienist who can be found in the yellow pages, who can provide advice and can undertake indoor air quality investigations on a fee-for-service basis. The EPA does not provide this kind of service.
There are also some useful websites that people can refer to for advice and further information, including:
- YourHome – The healthy home
- Department of Health (Commonwealth)
- Indoor Air Quality - A Report on Health Impacts and Management Options
- Healthy Homes - A guide to indoor air quality in the home for buyers, builders and renovators
- Department of the Environment (Commonwealth): Indoor air
- United States Environmental Protection Agency: Indoor air quality
The following publications provide information to assist in meeting the general environmental duty under section 25 of the Environment Protection Act 1993 or requirements of the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016.
This publication is one of a suite of EPA guidance tools for use by planning authorities, developers, owners of licensed and unlicensed industrial plants, planning and other consultants, government departments, and the community. The guideline sets out distances within which proponents need to evaluate impacts of activities on adjacent land uses to ensure that communities and sensitive environments are adequately protected.
It encapsulates information that underpins EPA advice on proposed new or expanding developments, Development Plan Amendments, or changes to licensed industrial processes, and explains the type of information to be provided to the EPA to facilitate smooth processing and assessment of applications/submissions.
The current version of Evaluation distances for effective air quality and noise management (2016) is referenced in clause 18 the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016 (the Air Quality EPP) as a document the EPA must take into account when assessing referred development applications (DAs).
During use of this guideline when assessing referred DAs since August 2016, the EPA highlight a number of minor erratum amendments that needed to made to provide more certainty to applicants about when air quality and/or noise assessments (such as modelling) may be required and avoid the ambiguity associated with certain wording in the 2016 version. The minor amendments have now been published in the newly revised 2019 version.
Once a notice has been placed in the Government Gazette in accordance with clause 17(1)(e)(ii) of the Air Quality Policy and section 32(1)(c) of the Environment Protection Act 1993 that the Policy has been amended to reference the 2019 version, the current (2016) version will be superceded.
Ambient air quality assessment
Ambient Air Quality Assessment outlines methods and approaches to facilitate assessment of proposals with minimal delays. The EPA takes a risk-based approach to protecting the environment, in balance with social needs, sound business and economic development targets. Submissions and supporting information should supply evidence demonstrating that a proposed development will not have adverse impacts, for example, by compromising environmental criteria recognised by the EPA.
This publication forms part of a suite of EPA guidance documents that should be read together to assist owners and operators of facilities with meeting their regulatory requirements for air quality and with understanding what is required for submissions for proposals referred to the EPA under the Development Act 1993.
Please note: This publication supersedes three previous guidelines: Odour assessment using odour source modelling (2007), Presentation of air pollution modelling outputs (2005) and Air quality impact assessment using design ground level pollutant concentrations (DGLCs) .
Emission testing methodology for air pollution
Emission testing methodology for air pollution contains methods for testing of chimney stack gas and particulate emissions for the EPA under clause 18 of the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016, or should it be required under an environmental authorisation or environmental improvement plan. This manual will assist licensees, test laboratories and analytical laboratories to monitor and report on air quality in a consistent manner using approved methods.