As smoke haze continues to blanket the Mid Coast region, there has been chatter on social media about the level of air quality.
There are plenty of ways to check air quality for an area online, however is the information accurate?
While you may be able to look up the air quality for Taree, Forster or Gloucester, it's a little difficult to determine where the data is being collected from.
A popular website in the region is IQAir, a Swiss and US based company that specialises in technology solutions that helps protect people from airborne pollutants, meaning the company sells air purifiers and personal monitoring stations.
The data on the site is based on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Air Quality Index, not the Australian index.
Each country has its own air quality index corresponding to different national air quality standards, with government agencies undertaking the monitoring.
When it comes to providing the New South Wales community with accurate and up-to-date information about air quality, the data is collected by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
The department has monitoring sites set up in Sydney and several regional areas of NSW continuously measuring particles (PM10, PM2.5), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and visibility.
This data is updated on an hourly basis and is made available to the public via its website.
This information is also complied on sites such as the Bureau of Meteorology, providing easy access to the data nationwide.
The air program seeks to understand current air quality and its impacts, and determine how these have changed over time and are likely to change into the future.
In order to do this, the department has set up a number of monitoring stations, none of which are in the Mid Coast region.
However, there are collection setups in the Hunter Valley and Newcastle regions.
During the bushfire emergencies, the department has set up monitoring stations in affected areas which includes Taree and Port Macquarie, where Multi-channel DustTraks are being used to report Total Suspended Particles (particles generally up to 100 micrometres in diameter), PM10 (less than 10 micrometres in diameter) and PM2.5 (less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter).
Airborne particles are present at elevated levels where they can be hazardous to human health or cause a nuisance.
Potential health effects of airborne particles are closely related to particle size.
PM2.5 and PM10 particles are invisible to the naked eye and are assessed against health-based criteria, while TSP is assessed predominantly against nuisance-based criteria.
To get an idea of size in comparison, a human hair is about 60 micrometres in diameter.
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