BREATH EASY: Queensland Health's public health medical officer, Dr Margaret Young, who released results of a study of the air, and Professor Brain Priestly, who independently reviewed the study.
BREATH EASY: Queensland Health's public health medical officer, Dr Margaret Young, who released results of a study of the air, and Professor Brain Priestly, who independently reviewed the study. Amy Glass/Morning Bulletin

Clean bill for Port City’s air

IT'S taken three years and more than $2 million, but the verdict is in – the air is clear in Gladstone.

Queensland Health yesterday released a report stating the air quality in Gladstone is within national and international health standards.

Speaking exclusively with The Observer yesterday, Queensland Health public health medical officer Dr Margaret Young said she hoped the results of six months of air-testing would reassure Gladstone residents.

Concerns over air quality have been a major community issue for years in Gladstone, with fears the many heavy industries located close to homes and schools were causing residents to become ill.

The report was designed to identify if there were any health risks requiring urgent action.

“We were dealing with the question, ‘Is this air making me sick?’– which the community had raised, so these results should be really reassuring,” Dr Young said.

“Nothing has raised its head.”

Dr Young said all metals tested were no higher than 5%, and most were below 1%.

Coal dust had been a particular focus of community concern, but the results indicated that coal dust was unlikely to pose any risk to health. However, other results from the study had found higher rates of self-reported asthma cases and higher rates of parents reporting asthma in their children, compared to national averages.

Dr Young said the study would look to see whether all pollutants in the air could be working together to irritate the respiratory tract, even if they were harmless individually.

Smoking rates were 4% higher in Gladstone than the national average, and this could be influencing asthma rates, Dr Young added.

The Gladstone Interim Human Health Risk Assessment Report is based on air-monitoring data collected during the first half of 2009 and is available at www.derm.qld.gov.

The final Human Health Risk Assessment Report will be completed in 2010 when a full 12 months of data from the enhanced air monitoring program are available.

The report has been reviewed by independent reviewer Professor Brian Priestly.

Professor Priestly said he was pleased with the thoroughness of the report and he was “comfortable” with its conclusions.

A public meeting will be held on November 18 to discuss the report.



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