'Very poor': Investigation launched into Gladstone pollution
A GOVERNMENT department has launched an investigation into a "spike" of pollution at Fisherman's Landing which was well above specified guidelines.
The Department of Environment and Heritage said it's aware of the four-day spike that saw pollution levels quadruple on Monday afternoon.
The spike ramped up just after 4pm before reaching a peak of around 130 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m^3) at 10pm when it plateaued at well above the Government specified standard of 50 ug/m^3.
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It then drifted down to about 120 ug/m^3 and didn't substantially decline until after 4pm on Tuesday, only falling below the specified level in the evening.
It again drifted above the specified level in the early hours of Wednesday morning where it sat for the rest of the day.
"[We are] aware of the recent spike in PM10 levels recorded at Fisherman's Landing air monitoring site and [are] investigating the matter," a Department spokesman said.
"The monitoring site is in close proximity to a number of industrial and port facilities.
"The spike in PM10 is localised and has not occurred at any other air quality monitoring sites around Gladstone."
CQ University's Professor Aoife Power said the pollutant, classified as PM10, meaning its small enough for people to inhale, is usually caused by industry, but wind-blown dust, vehicle emissions, or fires could also be behind it.
Prof Power said guidelines, at 50 ug/m^3, are well below levels that could cause serious harm to people to allow a "margin of error", but added "that is still a big leap".
Its impact also depends on what is in the pollution, as Prof Power said, "for instance, fibreglass can be far more damaging than soot or carbon".