Canberra air quality over 500% worse than hazardous threshold

Dominic Giannini 20 December 2019 154
Weston Creek

Looking over Weston Creek through the smoke haze at 8:00 am this morning. Photo: Region Media.

The air quality station at Florey recorded an air quality index (AQI) reading of 1007 at midday (20 December), more than five-times the hazardous AQI level of 200.

The plummeting air quality levels in the capital are worse than China and India, and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) says the smoke is here to stay.

With the ACT being surrounded by haze in pretty much all directions, wind changes are just recirculating smoke from across the Riverina or blowing fresh smoke in from the east.

BoM Meteorologist Helen Reid says there may be a slight improvement in air quality; however, conditions can also deteriorate from smoke over the central tablelands or more smoke being blown inland over the course of the day.

Screenshots from ACT Health.

“Basically there is either recirculated smoke or fresh smoke,” she said. “There will be north-west to south-west winds today, which will blow in smoke over the Riverina and will recirculate.

“Overnight we are expecting an easterly to push through, bringing in smoke from fires to the east; that is, the Currowan and North Black Range fires.”


Smoke haze in Braddon compared. Photo: Twitter. Dr Holly Vuong (@CoughItUp1).

Saturday will see north-west winds blow smoke inland towards Canberra, and a southerly change will only drag up more smoke from the Victorian fires, but Canberra is more likely to be affected by a south-easterly change, bringing an influx of fresh smoke on Saturday evening.

Hazardous levels mean the general public will be noticeably affected and adverse health effect can trigger other illnesses. It is advised that everyone should avoid exercise and remain indoors.

ACT Health says conditions like this can cause itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation, a runny nose and shortness of breath and coughing, and these symptoms can last for a few days after exposure.

If you experience chest tightness, wheezing, or difficulty breathing, seek urgent medical assistance, ACT Health says.

For further information on air quality, visit ACT Health.

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
154 Responses to Canberra air quality over 500% worse than hazardous threshold
Ali Kate Ali Kate 11:22 am 22 Dec 19

Kerry Brogan, this was Friday...

Jan Skorich Jan Skorich 9:18 pm 21 Dec 19

It's so much worse this evening. Hard to breathe and stinging eyes.

    Wendy Butler Wendy Butler 9:46 am 22 Dec 19

    Jan Skorich it was awful even with everything shut the polluted air was coming in through the top of the laundry window. Not as bad as the pea soupers of my childhood in London. Take care

Allan Stopher Allan Stopher 2:32 pm 21 Dec 19

The clean air official will have to do his sums again

Fiona Richardson Fiona Richardson 1:27 pm 21 Dec 19

Lucky you are on hols Darcy Jade

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:25 am 21 Dec 19

It was reported in the Bureau of Meteorology Bulletin No. 38 that Canberra was surrounded by serious bushfires in late 1925, one with a 10 km front beyond the Murrumbidgee River which resulted in Canberra being covered by a heavy smoke pall for about a week in January 1926.

The smoke we are getting now is actually coming from the east so as Canberra is surrounded by bush we are constantly exposed to this happening every 50 -100 years.

Janet Russell Janet Russell 9:56 am 21 Dec 19

Confined to barracks today 😷

Sandy Chen Sandy Chen 9:13 am 21 Dec 19

Adam Chen come to Sydney m8

Stacey Rochelle-Stone Stacey Rochelle-Stone 8:45 am 21 Dec 19

You can stay for as long as you want !!!

Lucy Stone Lucy Stone 8:20 am 21 Dec 19

Stacey Stevie glad we’re coming down to you today!

Cassandra Pantelidis Cassandra Pantelidis 8:18 am 21 Dec 19

Christopher Pantelidis good thing you are spending xmas is Sweden

Anissa Jones Anissa Jones 7:36 am 21 Dec 19

This was this morning. All three areas are well over the 200 AQI. NEARLY SIX TIMES OVER!

Alex Stodulka Alex Stodulka 7:30 am 21 Dec 19

Just Another day on a construction site or next to a dodgy rubbish dump in Hume... to be honest workers In Hume were exposed to this quite often and the union, Worksafe, Epa , Andrew Barr and greens were nowhere to be seen ... and this was actually controllable .

I’d “hazard” a guess tradies are exposed to these levels quite often when cutting concrete or your tiles or kitchen bench tops etc ...

I guess it’s not great when there are no options or technology can only do so much

Rastislav Zrelak Rastislav Zrelak 11:22 pm 20 Dec 19

Switch off all H.A.A.R.P.s stop chemtrails in Australia and let it rain, Rain is what we need

Mo Bo Mo Bo 10:43 pm 20 Dec 19

What has ScoMo got to do with the smoke when it's all Trump's fault?

Martin Dallen Martin Dallen 10:17 pm 20 Dec 19

I might have to start filtering this air through a cigarette.

Sid Hilton Sid Hilton 10:06 pm 20 Dec 19

I am selling bags of air

Monica Wynn Monica Wynn 9:52 pm 20 Dec 19

Capri Cross it’s defs worse now. Good thing the buns are close to the ground 😭

    Capri Cross Capri Cross 9:53 pm 20 Dec 19

    Monica Wynn they still wouldnt come inside 🙄

Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 9:39 pm 20 Dec 19

The Volvo truck I was driving today has cleaner exhaust gas than Canberra does.

Jeannie Robinson Jeannie Robinson 9:16 pm 20 Dec 19

I wonder if Jacinda’s country was on fire how she would handle things, I bet when you have a crisis like this, you always here from her. People are risking their lives trying to save this country! Not only what is happening with the fires but the impact that the smoke has on the city’s to the economy, healthcare etc

Rhonda McKenzie Rhonda McKenzie 8:16 pm 20 Dec 19

Oh dear..don't breath...😂

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site