The health effects caused by air pollutants may range from:
subtle biochemical and physiological changes difficulty breathing wheezing coughing aggravation of
existing respiratory and cardiac conditions
For many of us, smoke will make us cough and may make our eyes and nose run. However, the young,
elderly and sensitive populations with existing conditions of either cardiovascular disease or respiratory
disorders such as asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or allergy problems, may find they become very
sick and need special treatment on days when there is a lot of smoke in the air. These effects can result in
increased use of medication, increased doctor or emergency room visits, more hospital admissions, and
even premature death.
As a society, we pay for the health effects of air pollution in many ways. Additional health care costs for the
treatment of these effects may come from:
hospital admissions visits to the emergency room or doctor's office homecare service medication such as
inhalers for asthma.
Other considerations include lost productivity in the workplace, lost wages due to sick time, out of pocket
expenses incurred while ill (eg additional child care costs), lost quality of life, or ultimately loss of life itself.
The Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA) is the primary environment
protection legislation in Tasmania
The fundamental basis of EMPCA is the prevention, reduction and remediation of environmental harm.
This is defined very broadly in section 5 of the Act as:
"any adverse effect on the environment (of whatever degree or duration) and includes an environmental
nuisance" (the latter is defined as 'the emission of a pollutant that unreasonably interferes with, or is likely
to interfere with, a person's enjoyment of the environment')".
Section 53A of the EMPCA states:
“ 53A. Evidentiary provision for environmental nuisance .
If, in a proceeding for an offence against section 53(1) or (2), an authorized officer or a council officer gives
evidence, based on the officer’s own senses, that noise, smoke, dust, fumes or odour was emitted from a
place occupied by the defendant and travelled to, or was, or was likely to be, detectable at, a place
occupied by another person, that evidence is prima facie evidence of the matters so stated.”
Regulations 2018 Version current from 31 January 2018 to 29 January 2019 These have now
lapsed.Until our new Smoke Regulations 2019 come into force we have no 'domestic smoke
The domestic smoke Regulations came into force on the 26th June 2019 and have been changed to
We also have.....
"The Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality) 2004 provides a framework for the management and
regulation of both point and diffuse sources of emissions to air for pollutants with the potential to cause
environmental harm. The Policy was made on 13 December 2004 and came into effect on 1 June 2005.
The environmental values to be protected under the Air Quality Policy are:
The life, health and well-being of humans
The life, health and well-being of other forms of life
This is not what is happening in Tasmania.
"Many smoke exposure events will therefore not result in a formal investigation and
so regulatory action against burners will not eradicate smoke from Tasmania." - EPA
Management of Planned Burning
Back yard burning:
At this point no one seems to be adminstering our environmental Act or Regulations in relation to burning on blocks greater than 2000 square meters of more.
The EPA have maintained councils are the correct people to be dealing with back yard burning on block sizes of 2000 square meters or greater.
Our local West Tamar Council sought legal advice and following that advice maintain they cannot help me in relation to back yard burning pollution. The WTC correspondence can be read here.
21. 09. 2012 - My letter to the EPA Board advising them of West Tamar Council's legal advice in relation to back yard burning.
26. 09. 2012 - Letter from the EPA Director regarding legal Interpretation of legislative powers relating to back yard burning
28. 09. 2012 - My letter to the EPA Director asking for this matter to be clarified One more back yard burn could result in smoke related death.
19. 12. 2013 - My letter to EPA Director asking what is happening.
29. 01. 2014 - Response from Mr. John Mollison, Delegate for the Director
06.10. 2014 - Various emails
20.11. 2014 - EPA Director confirms nothing has been done to clarify the situation.
20.12. 2017 - MOU between EPA and LGAT
"Councils have responsibility for management of smoke issues on those blocks of less than 2000 square meters and the EPA for those over."
Alan Garcia, CEO, Local Government Association of Tasmania - 12/6/2012
"...this advice leaves no room for Council to proceed with your request for the creation of a by-law to control burning on land which has an area in excess of 2000 m2."
Rolph Vos, Development Services Manager West Tamar Council - 22/12/2011
"... the EPA does nort directly regulate smoke from domestic sources including backyard burning activities.
Local Council is the responsible authority..."
Alex Schaap, Director, EPA- 22/11/2011
"Individual councils can enact by-laws to restrict burning on larger blocks" (2000 square or more)
Ellis Cox, Environmental Liason Officer, EPA - 12/6/2012
Double click to edit
E P A Tasmania
"Would the EPA consider placing notices in the newspapers and posting out messages in the mail to every land owner outlining what you have suggested to me, ie, requesting those undertaking burning desist or do so in a manner which does not cause nuisance smoke?"
Clive Stott -12/11/2012
"I regret I am not able to offer much in the way of advertising or distribution of educational material."
Alex Schaap, Director EPA - 30/11/2012.
" With respect, I do not agree the most productive path for me is to deal directly with those undertaking burning. I feel this is risking me being put at physical harm from irate burners, and when burning does take place, my health will be put at risk directly from the smoke."
"...it is a state- wide problem. I do not know who burns in areas that I may wish to go to.
I cannot be asked to "engage directly" with every burner in every area I go to that is making nuisance smoke." Clive Stott -12/11/2012
"I have reviewed the advice provided to council and taken further advice. It is clear to me that a Council is able to make bylaws regarding such burning and it is clear to me that it is open to Council to prosecute in the event that burning occurs in a way which causes nuisance."
"Until the matter is settled, the most productive path in the short term may be for you to engage directly with those undertaking burning in your area and request them to desist or do so in a manner which does not cause smoke nuisance."
Alex Schaap, Director, EPA - 5/11/2012
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is Tasmania’s principal environmental regulator. The EPA
administers the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 and is an integral part of
Tasmania's Resource Management and Planning System.
The EPA’s purpose is to regulate developments and activities that may impact on environmental quality and
to promote best practice, sustainable environmental management.
The EPA is supported by the EPA Division of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and
Environment. The Division supports the EPA to enable it to make well informed environmental assessment
decisions, through an efficient integrated assessment process and to regulate to ensure that major
industrial, municipal and community activities employ best practice environmental management.
The Division further supports the EPA to promote and facilitate the adoption of clean and sustainable
practices, to provide the community with information about the quality of the environment and to improve
ambient environmental quality, including the remediation of historical environmental damage.
The Tasmanian Environment Division made these claims on it's website on the 4th May 2008 when this
page was first published:
"Clean air is one of our most precious resources, essential for our survival and quality of life."
"Air and water quality is indispensable to the health of individuals, communities and the natural
The Department is working to address air, noise and water pollution issues."
"The state of Tasmania's environment is important to the health and safety of all Tasmanians.
We aim to ensure that our environment is clean and healthy by protecting our air, water, soil and
ecosystems, and by avoiding and remedying adverse effects of activities on the environment."
The health effects of poor air quality due to woodsmoke are far reaching, but principally affect:the body's
respiratory system - the lungs the cardiovascular system - the heart and blood vessels.
At high concentrations these tiny particles can aggravate breathing problems like asthma, bronchitis and
infections like pneumonia and in some cases can cause permanent lung damage or other lung diseases.
Individual reactions to air pollutants depend on the type of pollutant to which a person is exposed, the
amount of which the person is exposed, and the individual's health and genetics.
Click on the EPA logo above to go to the informative and comprehensive EPA website
EPA Annual Reports for 2008 and onwards - read about air quality.
Small-scale 'waste-removal' burning.
It might infuriate some people who are against open burning because of the harmful smoke it produces, and let’s face it they have a point , because our national body, the Australian Government Dept. of Environment, says in regard to managing smoke from biomass burning, "Alternatives to burning are now encouraged because they have less impact on air quality and are more environmentally sustainable."
But also let’s face it, less is best, and in reality a prohibition on all types of open burning is not going to happen in some countries of the world, or within some states, or even with some uninformed councils.
The full burning spectrum covers no burning in some places, to unregulated extremely toxic green smoky burns in others, and every process in between.
So what is best, do we bash our heads unsuccessfully to go for a total ban, or do we look at other approaches in the interim to greatly reduce the smoke from these burns that are quite capable of killing susceptible people, making many others suffer and harms everybody?
The article at http://epa.tas.gov.au/epa/management-of-planned-burning was produced by the State Government EPA Air Quality Section in Tasmania, Australia. It shows how smoke from small scale open burns can be minimized and surely this must be a good thing? People must be made to follow it though until a complete ban comes into place.
There are small-scale waste removal methods that do not necessitate burning.
However, there must be severe mandatory penalties where this smoke harms someone else.
And we must never forget there is no safe level of smoke. People must stop burning stuff.
“Environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies” - US EPA
25.11.2022 - Roger Jaensch, Minister for Environment and Climate Change
Environmental Management and Pollution Control Bill passes Parliament
The Environmental Management and Pollution Control Amendment Bill 2022 passed the Tasmanian Parliament yesterday, providing for increased transparency, improved consistency and certainty for industry and the community while maintaining a strong and comprehensive environmental regulation framework.
Last year, the Tasmanian Liberal Government announced the structural and organisational separation of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) from the Department of Primary Industries Parks Water and Environment, strengthening the independence of the EPA.
This Bill formalises these changes and clarifies the independent role of the EPA.
The Bill includes changes to the powers for the Director to make monitoring information available to the public, and outlines the process and powers for making Environmental Standards and Technical Standards.
These changes include powers to ensure the Ministerial Statement of Expectation aligns with the objectives outlined in the Act, and the functions and powers of the EPA Board.