The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) is Australia’s most comprehensive repository of information about toxic pollution. It was introduced in 1998 in response to community right-to-know campaigns.Increasingly, Australians demand to know about toxic substances entering our environments, suburbs and homes, and to know which polluters are responsible for them. Informed communities and consumers are a driving force for cleaner production.
Each year, polluters are obliged to report their emissions to air, land and water if they emit more than a specified mass of each of the NPI’s 93 toxic substances. These reports are just an estimate of point source (e.g. stack) emissions and fugitive emissions. They are not based on actual monitoring.
Polluters’ reports are then collated by the environmental protection agencies in each state and territory and published on the NPI website. Pollution reports can be downloaded by specifying one or more regions, industries, companies or substances.
Weaknesses of the NPI
- Only 93 toxic substances are reported. By comparison, the United States’ Toxics Release Inventory contains 594 chemicals.
- Several sources of pollution are not required to be reported, including coal stockpiles, coal mines owned and operated by power stations and coal trains with uncovered wagons.
- Reporting errors are not remedied and queries are not responded to.
- The NPI can only estimate pollution, it is not designed to prevent it. Australia’s air pollution laws are failing to protect the health of local communities and the environment.
- Coal-fired power stations still Australia’s major source of toxic fine particle pollution (EJA media release on NPI, 2018)
- Power stations – data from NPI, 2018 (spreadsheet)
- Coal mines – data from NPI, 2018 (spreadsheet)
- Air pollution hot spots – data from NPI, 2018 (spreadsheet)
- Fact sheets on the health impact of NPI substances
- National Pollutant Inventory lifts the lid on Australia’s toxic burden (EJA media release on NPI, 2017)
- Latest national air pollution data shows dangerous hikes in emissions (EJA media release on NPI, 2016)
- Health effects of SO2 and NOx
- Coal-fired power stations and health
- Toxic and terminal: How the regulation of coal-fired power stations fails Australian communities (PDF, 4MB)
- Clearing the air: Why Australia urgently needs effective national air pollution laws (PDF 1.6MB)
- A tale of two power stations (PDF, 588KB)
- Coal and health in the Hunter: Lessons from one valley for the world (Climate and Health Alliance, 2015)
Contact Environmental Justice Australia researcher Dr James Whelan, 0431 150 928