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The town of Port Hedland, located in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, experiences high dust levels and receives dust from multiple sources including industry, nature and other background sources. 

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) [previously Department of Environment Regulation] ran the Port Hedland air quality monitoring campaign to better understand dust issues in Port Hedland including the location of dust sources and the movement of dust plumes in the air. The campaign monitoring was undertaken from February to June 2017, with a report on the campaign’s findings expected to be released in late 2017.

The campaign is using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology, which works by emitting a light beam and measuring the backscatter from particles or dust in the air, together with five air quality monitors that measure the concentration of particles in the air. 

A LiDAR can be used to identify potential sources of dust and the movement of dust in the air. For example, it canl be a useful tool to understand whether a dust plume has originated from a particular source or activity or whether a dust plume has been caused from a wider natural or background event.

In addition, the air quality monitors provide an accurate measurement of the concentration of particulate matter in the air and have been installed to measure particulate matter (dust) that is less than 10 micrometres in diameter (PM10). This parameter was selected as it is considered the key air quality parameter for Port Hedland, as detailed within the Department of Health’s 2016 Health Risk Assessment Report. 

LiDAR technology is not intended to be used as a basis for enforcement action taken by DWER, but rather as a tool to inform decision making under Part V of the Environmental Protection Act 1986.

What Is Happening Now?

DWER is now reviewing and analysing the large colume of data successfully collected. Following ths review DWER will publish a report with the results of the campaign. The report is scheduled for release by the end of 2017. 

More Information

For more information on the campaign, a factsheet is located here.

If you would like more background on air quality monitoring in Western Australia, please visit DWER’s Air Quality Publications web page.

Contact DWER at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions regarding the campaign.

 Updated 9 August 2017