Air pollution and community health road trip

In August 2018, members of our legal and research team hit the road to visit three air pollution hot spots on Australia’s east coast. Each of these hot spots — Lithgow, Gladstone and Rockhampton — featured in our Toxic and terminal report last year, which found the regulation of coal-fired power stations is failing Australian communities.

Australia has one of the oldest and least efficient fleets of coal-fired power stations in the world. For local communities, that means exposure to dangerous fine particle pollution, sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, mercury and many other toxic substances. These pollutants contribute to serious health impacts, including asthma, respiratory disease and premature death.

There is no good reason why these communities should bear this burden. We know pollution controls can be fitted to control toxic air pollution from power stations, reducing emissions by as much as 90%. During our time on the road, we met with power station operators, environment protection authorities, and local communities, to discuss options that ensure both energy supply and community health.

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