In May 2019 a temporary air quality monitoring system was installed in Katoomba and three smaller 'KOALA' (Knowing Our Ambient Local Air) air quality sensors were installed in Lithgow for a year long study.
But now we are in February and will be soon coming to the end of the project.
And many members of the community would like to see 24/7 air monitoring in the Lithgow region once the 12 month program comes to an end.
Lithgow Environment Group member Julie Favell said she would have liked to see more education on the Air Watch pilot program.
"It isn't real time, it is only day time monitoring because it is powered by solar," she said.
Ms Favell said that the project was a great asset for the community, and one that we need to see stick around in the area.
"Averaging out is hard because one minute we have 90 kilometre winds or we had four months influenced by fire," she said.
The temporary monitoring station at Katoomba measures particles (PM10 and PM2.5), sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, oxides of nitrogen, visibility and meteorology.
Twelve KOALA air quality sensors complement the air quality station. The 12 sensors are installed in Katoomba, Springwood, Wentworth Falls (Boddington Hill) and Lithgow to measure particles (PM10 and PM2.5) and carbon monoxide.
The study is taking place by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) in association with local community groups, councils, Western Sydney University, Doctors for the Environment and Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District.
"It would be most welcomed if they could allocate full time monitoring, clear of independent monitoring," Ms Favell said.
Western Sydney University lecturer in environmental health, Dr Maggie Davidson is analysing air quality data from ultra fine particles.
She said the "current exposure limits for acceptable air quality, averaged over 24 hours are 50 g/m3 (micrometres) for PM10 and 25 g/m3 for PM2.5."
"Those figures were well and truly eclipsed during the December period at 450 g/m3," she said.
The locations of the sensors were selected in consultation with community representatives, according to an EPA representative.
The KOALA systems are located at Zig Zag Public School, Lithgow High and La Salle Academy.
"They were picked because they were secure locations, but I wish they had also chosen Cooerwull Public because it is near the Highway and also across the road from the train line," Ms Favell said.
The only 24/7 monitoring system within Lithgow is located at Mt Piper power station.
"Mt Piper power station carries out continuous and periodic air quality monitoring, along with continuous (24/7) ambient air quality monitoring in Blackmans Flat and Wallerawang," an EPA representative said.
According to the representative, the EPA sets licenced emission limits based on a range of considerations including legislative requirements, the health and amenity of the neighbouring community, available technology and environmental best practice.
"Monitoring required as a condition of an Environment Protection Licence must be undertaken at the frequency stipulated in the licence," the representative said.
With EnergyAustralia's energy recovery project having released its environmental impact statement, Ms Favell said it would be timely to get a permanent independent monitor installed.
"We need a long term emission plan, and I believe that with them bringing the rubbish from Sydney we may be decreasing the emissions there but just increasing them here," she said.
"Why are we taking Sydney's responsibility?"
Another idea Ms Favell had was to buy our own monitoring system, either through Federal or State funding.
"We really need sufficient funding for air quality monitoring that will last longer than a year," she said.
If you want to check out the real time air monitoring you can do so here.