POLLUTION levels will be closely watched with Armidale Regional Council’s new purple air monitors.
Deputy mayor Dorothy Robinson said it’s a step in the right direction to dealing with the pollution problem.
“We already know more than enough to know we have a really serious health problem with wood smoke in Armidale,” she said.
“When you have a very good idea you have a problem you don’t defer action.”
Air quality in Armidale exceeded the maximum level of particulate matter, that has similar health effects to tobacco smoke, eight times in two weeks last winter.
Council will purchase 26 air monitors at a price tag of $6800.
The monitors allow council and the public to check air quality levels in real time.
Each unit needs to be connected to WiFi, so council is looking for members of the public to install the monitors to their private networks.
Cr Margaret O’Connor said she felt the debate about wood smoke pollution is overdue.
“I’m supporting this because my conscience is absolutely on high alert,” she said.
“I went to the Air Quality Summit in 2017, it’s very clear the health risks this community is undertaking by not addressing this.
Pollution under the inversion layer in the Armidale CBD is actually shortening lives.Margaret O'Connor.
“Pollution under the inversion layer in the Armidale CBD is actually shortening lives.”
But, councillors agreed there is a need to tread carefully on the issue.
Last year a motion to support policy that would allow local council’s to take action on wood fire pollution was retracted by councillors after it sparked community outrage.
Original recommendations from the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee asked that council not allow installation of any wood heaters in the CBD.
Cr Ian Tiley shot down that idea.
“This is going to send us back into WWIII,” he said.
“This is a good forerunner but the other stuff ought to be deferred until it [the data collection] is done.”