You might think air pollution is the least of our worries on the Northern Beaches. Unfortunately, like any other large urban area our air quality can be affected by smoke, vehicle exhausts, odours, dust and toxic fumes.

It’s not just unpleasant, it can affect your health, both immediately as well as contributing to chronic respiratory health issues. If you see it, smell it, or feel unwell because of it, please report the air pollution issue.

Air quality monitoring

Air quality monitoring is conducted on an hourly basis at sites throughout the Greater Sydney region and NSW by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Additional emergency monitoring is also conducted in areas of intense bush fires.

Wood smoke

Wood smoke is a major cause of air pollution. During winter, wood heaters produce up to seven times as much pollution as cars. Wood smoke contains noxious gases including carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and organic compounds that may be toxic or carcinogenic. It also causes particle pollution, which you’ll see as a brown atmospheric haze on still, cool, winter mornings. If you see a chimney belching wood smoke, please report it.

TIP: Contact Australian Home Heating Association for information about efficient wood heater operation techniques, knowing when wood is ready for use for cleaner burning (eg low moisture content) and general advice. This can save you money and help prevent air pollution at the same time.

Backyard burning

Burning rubbish or lighting fires in backyards is prohibited, and can incur fines. It’s okay to light a fire for cooking or warming at home as long as you use dry seasoned wood, LPG, natural gas or barbecue coals. Whenever a total fire ban is in place, no burning at all is permitted except for gas powered BBQs on your property. Some other types of fires may also be permitted such as for the purpose of bush fire hazard reduction. Contact the NSW Rural Fire Service RFS or NSW Environment Protection Agency EPA for more information regarding other approvals and restrictions. If you see prohibited backyard burning please call 000 and report it to Council.

Smoky vehicles

A smoky vehicle is any motor vehicle that produces visible smoke continuously for over 10 seconds. If you see a smoky vehicle, please report it to the EPA. You can avoid contributing to air pollution and enhance your own health and that of pedestrians and other road users by maintaining your vehicle to minimise exhaust pollution.

TIP: You can also help cut down on air pollution caused by vehicles on the road by making use of public transport or carpooling. 

Bad smells

Some odours don’t just smell bad, they may contain irritants that can trigger an asthma attack or other respiratory conditions. Offensive odour is one of the most frequent air pollution complaints we receive. It’s also one of the most difficult to investigate because it’s affected by prevailing wind and weather patterns. If you detect an offensive odour, especially if you have health concerns, please report it.

Report air pollution to Council

Please report all air pollution issues. Please include the time, date and duration of pollution, weather conditions and wind direction, details in relation to the nature of the pollution, details where the pollution is likely to be coming from and your contact details.

If the air pollution you’re reporting is urgent, or a hazardous situation you think may cause physical harm to a person or property, please call us 24/7 on 1300 434  434.