THIS week’s THINKING ALLOWED is by TREVOR JEWELL, a member of Friends of Hampton and Ord, who is concerned about the lack of air pollution monitoring in Fremantle.
HOW polluted is Fremantle?
The answer to the question is “Who knows?”.
There is no air pollution monitoring in the City of Fremantle. Does that surprise you?
Friends of Hampton and Ord started the search for information in regards to improving the safety and amenity of the Hampton and Ord Streets a while ago.
It wanted to establish some baseline data in regards to the conditions in the Fremantle area associated with the high traffic volume on these streets.
As a result FoHO found that these streets carry approximately 21,000 vehicles per day, of which 5-7 per cent are heavy vehicles.
This is many times the limits for what is officially a “local road” under WA Main Roads classifications.
These statistics support the concerns of local residents that these streets carry too much traffic.
The quest was less fruitful when it came to air pollution in the area.
The idea was that air quality data would be useful to provide a comparison point to judge whether the situation was improved through the work of the group. So various agencies were approached.
The WA state government said that they have air quality monitoring sites in South Lake and Swanbourne and air quality was within acceptable limits at both sites.
They would not consider doing any localised monitoring because of the cost.
Fremantle council said that they do not conduct air or noise pollution monitoring, nor did they see any need and they would not undertake monitoring.
Fremantle MP Josh Wilson said “it’s a good idea but it’s a state government responsibility”.
The final stop was the Fremantle Port Authority. The hope was that they monitor air and noise pollution coming from the operations of the inner harbour which would give some information.
The answer was that they do not conduct air quality monitoring.
The next thought was, ‘should we be concerned?’. An internet search found that there are three potential areas of worry for the residents of the City of Fremantle.
Port based air pollution resulting from ships berthed at the inner and outer harbours, ships at anchor in Gage Roads, loading and unloading activities and heavy vehicle traffic associated with the inner and outer port.
The industrial areas to the south of the City in Cockburn and Kwinana.
Vehicle based noise and air emissions associated with the through-traffic along Hampton and Ord Streets and other transit roads.
The research indicated that there is a need for vigilance as all three potential sources of pollution have been found to generate nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and diesel particulate pollution.
Particulate matter, is that black soot that collects on the outside of houses and cars in Fremantle.
It can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, and can contribute to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses and even premature death.
Diesel emissions of nitrogen oxides have been strongly associated with lung cancer. Other fuels are linked to similar concerns.
Australia has some of the poorest standards for vehicle emission standards for trucks and for fuel quality standards of all developed countries.
We are concerned because there is information on traffic volume, on vehicle accidents and the cost to the community of crashes, deaths and injuries.
However there can be no confidence in the quality of air we as there is no regular monitoring.