Smoke closes in on Mt Larcom at about 4pm Wednesday, November 28.
Smoke closes in on Mt Larcom at about 4pm Wednesday, November 28. Matt Harris

Air Quality: Rain washes away particles from bushfires

GLADSTONE'S air quality has improved dramatically since the beginning of the week and it's all thanks to Tuesday night's much-needed rain.

A total of 11.4mm was recorded at the Radar Hill and Gladstone Airport radars up to 9am on Wednesday.

This helped a number of Gladstone-based air-monitoring stations to record remarkable decreases in PM10 and PM2.5 airborne particles.

PM10 particles are generated by a wide range of natural processes and human activities, including windblown dust, industrial processes, motor-vehicle emissions and fires.

PM2.5 particles originate mainly from combustion processes such as motor-vehicle emissions, industrial boilers, solid-fuel heaters and fires.

PM10 airborne particles are less than 10 micrometres in diameter and PM2.5 are less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter.

There was significant drops in airborne particle levels at the Targinie and Boat Creek stations with a 87.55 per cent and 85.08 per cent decrease in PM10 particles respectively and a respective decrease of 94.85 per cent and 93.47 per cent for PM2.5.

These locations had recorded PM10 and PM2.5 particles considered to be in the 'poor' or 'very poor' range.

 

WASHED AWAY: PM10 and PM2.5 airborne particles, caused mainly by the recent bushfires, have significantly reduced.
WASHED AWAY: PM10 and PM2.5 airborne particles, caused mainly by the recent bushfires, have significantly reduced.

A Department of Environment and Science spokesperson said bushfires could cause an increase in PM10 and PM2.5 particles.

"On December 3 elevated concentrations of both PM10 and PM 2.5 were recorded. The particles would have included soot and ash from bushfires, as well as windblown dust due to the dry conditions," they said.

"Rainfall will reduce the concentration of particles associated with bushfire by both extinguishing the fires that produced the smoke particles and by dampening the ash so that it cannot be easily windblown.

"Raindrops will also remove particles from the air as they fall to the ground."

 

Fires around Mount Larcom and Bracewell have burnt out much of the land during Queensland's week of extreme bushfires.
Fires around Mount Larcom and Bracewell have burnt out much of the land during Queensland's week of extreme bushfires. Matt Taylor GLA291118FIRE

DES said the recent rainfall was also associated with a change in wind direction to the southeast, bringing "relatively clean air from over the ocean and directing smoke from any remaining fires away from Gladstone".

While the Targinie and Boat Creek stations recorded poor and very poor air quality levels prior to the rain, the Clinton, Auckland Point, South Gladstone and Boyne Island stations all recorded levels considered to be in the 'fair' or 'good' range.



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