“The Air is Fair, Here and There”: Queensland Communities Assessing and Comparing Air Quality

Our Project

While air quality in Australia is considered relatively clean compared to many countries around the world, it should not be taken for granted. As seen recently in the summer of 2019-2020, an extreme natural phenomenon, labelled as a national bushfire crisis, dominated news headlines and raised substantial interest from the public.

Brisbane city, seen from the Mount Coot-Tha outlook point during a smoky day

Managing air quality will protect our healthy lifestyles and the wellbeing of our most vulnerable groups, including asthmatics and children. To manage air quality, we must be able to monitor it; especially important with major bushfire events predicted to be more likely nation-wide. Assisting the management of air quality (from natural or manmade processes) in Queensland, Australia, and globally, monitoring networks are being improved with low-cost KOALA sensors developed by the ILAQH, QUT. For more information about the KOALAs and how they operate.

The aim of this project is to better satisfy the concern and curiosity of citizens by putting air quality information in their hands, thereby empowering them. Bushfire events are predicted to worsen with a changing climate, however, these may be mitigated if authorities, policy-makers and the public have better informed discussions around air quality and conditions which deteriorate it; this is the specific scientific research issue we want to address – can concern over air quality by lessened when citizens are empowered to have open discussions.

We have 5 Queensland schools participating in the project. In all the schools there are 9 KOALA monitors placed (2 in Longreach, 1 in Mansfield, 3 in Southport, 2 at the Gap, 1 at Whitsundays) measuring ambient particulate matter (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide. The monitors send the data to the live map. There are also other KOALA monitors in other locations in Brisbane, and are included in the map for reference.

Scientific outcomes/results of our project will be shared in the form of visualizations; provision of raw data through a restricted function on the Data Management Centre, which allows community groups to have incentivized use of the data collected with their help as citizen scientists; publications in high impact factor journals, and media.

This project was funded by the Advance Queensland – Queensland Citizen Science Grants, Queensland Government.

Queensland Schools

  • Longreach State School (Longreach)
  • Mansfield State School (Brisbane)
  • Southport State High School (Gold Coast)
  • The Gap State High School (Brisbane)
  • Whitsunday Anglican School (Mackay)

Our Team

Project Leader

  • Lidia Morawska, ILAQH, QUT

Investigators

  • Andrew Wright, Whitsunday Anglican School, North Mackay
  • Craig Ray, Craig Ray & Associates, Brisbane
  • David Wainwright, Department of Environment and Science (DES), Brisbane
  • Geraldine Barlow, Curatorial Manager of International Art, Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art (QAGoMA), Brisbane
  • Gordon Dellit and Lachlan Smeed, The Gap State High School, Brisbane
  • Gunther Paul, James Cook University, Mackay
  • Amanda Barrett, Southport State High School, Gold Coast
  • Paul Wells, Longreach State High School, Longreach
  • Rohan Jayaratne, ILAQH, QUT
  • Tara Kuhn, Mansfield State School, Brisbane
  • Tom Cole-Hunter, QUT

Events & Media

Webinar 1 – 18 August 2021

On Wednesday the 18 August, the first interactive webinar took place via Zoom. The first webinar was hosted from QUT, with the Queensland schools and students connected via Zoom. Ms Geraldine Barlow, Curatorial Manager of International Art from the QAGoMA was present at QUT, and Craig Ray, Lawyer at Craig Ray & Associates was also connected virtually. Mr Gordan Dellit, Head of Science at The Gap State High Sschool and Professor Carman Gaina, Head of School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at QUT, opened the webinar.

The focus of the webinar was on air quality:

  • What do we know about air pollution, its sources and impacts (presented by Distinguished Professor Lidia Morawska, ILAQH, QUT)
  • What does good air quality mean to us as citizens? (presented by one of the students at The Gap State High School)
  • Everyone has a legal right to clean air (presented by Craig Ray, Craig Ray & Associates)
  • Air in the arts (presented by Geraldine Barlow, Curatorial Manager of International Art, QAGoMA)
  • An introduction to the low-cost KOALA monitor (presented by Dr Rohan Jayaratne, ILAQH, QUT)

The second webinar is planned for Wednesday, 20 October 2021.

To download a copy of the slides from Webinar 1

Video Webinar 1

 

Video Webinar 2 – Lidia Morawska Main Presentation 


Funding / Grants

  • Advance Queensland - Queensland Citizen Science Grants, Queensland Government (2020 - 2022)

KOALA Maps

Online Webinars

Funding/Grants

  • Advance Queensland – Queensland Citizen Science Grants, Queensland Government (2020-2022)