Air quality standards are incorporated into the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 1994 and the Environment Protection (Burning) Policy 1994. Both policies are under review and may be replaced with a new general Air Quality Policy.
Air pollution from industrial (i.e. non-residential) sources is regulated under the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 1994 through the setting of maximum pollution levels for various types of air pollutants including particulate matter, heavy metals, oxides of nitrogen and sulphur and carbon monoxide. Any occupier of non-domestic premises (eg. factories) emitting levels greater than those set out in the policy is guilty of an offence.
Air pollution from domestic premises is covered by the Environment Protection (Burning) Policy 1994. Under this policy, various activities are prohibited including backyard incinerators in all metropolitan council areas and burning leaves in the street. The policy provides for a range of exemptions including cooking and campfires.
Pollution in the form of smoke can be measured in terms of its degree of darkness. The Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 1994 sets out the test for smoke based on the Ringelmann Chart or the Miniature Smoke Chart. In relation to smells, it is an environmental nuisance offence for an occupier of premises to cause or to permit unreasonable odour to be emitted from the premises. Because odour is such a subjective matter, the law provides that odour is an environmental nuisance if an authorised officer gives evidence that the odour was emitted from a place occupied by the defendant and that the level, nature or extent of the odour was such that, in the officer's opinion, it caused an unreasonable interference with the complainants' enjoyment of their premises. The opinion of the officer can be controverted only by positive proof to the contrary. It is a defence to a charge to show that the odour could not have been prevented by any reasonable means.
Emissions from motor vehicles are a significant source of air pollution. New private motor vehicles have to comply with exhaust emissions standards established by the Transport and Infrastructure Council (formerly the Australian Transport Council). The Council brings together Commonwealth, State and New Zealand Ministers responsible for transport and infrastructure, as well as the Australian Local Government Association. The standards are called Australian Design Rules and are available through the website of the Commonwealth Department of Infrastrucutre and Transport. For South Australian purposes they are set out in part 3 of the Road Traffic (Light Vehicle Standards) Rules 2013 (SA).
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