Air quality monitoring station in the Mountains to end in May

Despite hazardous air quality readings during a "devastating black summer", the NSW government has refused to extend air monitoring in the region beyond May.

The news comes as a NSW Parliamentary Committee is set to examine the health impacts of exposure to poor levels of air quality caused by bushfire smoke and drought and the effectiveness of the response of NSW Health to recent hazardous air quality levels.

Member for Blue Mountains Trish Doyle has called it a "disappointing response from the government".

"Vital and useful information might have been collected over a slightly extended timeframe," she said.

"Given the devastating black summer we have just experienced, and the [Environment] Minister's [Matt Kean] own acknowledgment of climate change being a contributing factor, one would think that the government might care about future planning by measuring air quality over a number of seasons. That would provide a full view of air quality impacts."

Ms Doyle said she would "respectfully ask the Minister to reconsider".

"With drought and prolonged bushfire conditions, you would think that the Department of Environment would take the opportunity to collect critical and instructive information for future planning. "

Information on local air quality began in May last year for the Mountains and Lithgow communities, when the temporary air quality monitoring station was installed at Katoomba.

NSW Environment Protection Authority regional director metropolitan Giselle Howard said at the time the communities had been seeking more information on air quality and the project would provide a valuable picture of air quality over a 12 month period.

The monitoring station is operated by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and measures fine particles PM10 and PM2.5, sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, ozone and meteorological parameters. In addition, 12 KOALA [Knowing Our Ambient Local Air] sensors, operated by the Queensland University of Technology, are in Katoomba, Springwood, Wentworth Falls (Bodington Hill) and Lithgow to provide indicative information on ambient air quality that complements the Katoomba station data.

The Blue Mountains Union and Community group was a chief instigator in the push for monitoring real time pollution levels and compliance with national standards. Their secretary Debra Smith asked this month for the monitoring to continue for five years, "given the heightened future risks from bushfires and the public health issues confronting our communities as a consequence".

"Here in the Blue Mountains we have been able to monitor the air pollution generated from these fires and plan our activities accordingly, this has been particularly beneficial for the young and those suffering medical conditions," Ms Smith said.

A NSW Environment Protection Authority spokesperson said the project was funded to run until May 2020 and "at the conclusion ... the temporary monitoring station in Katoomba will be relocated to meet air monitoring priorities in another NSW location". A report on the winter air quality findings is due to be released next month with more details on the EPA website.

Mayor Mark Greenhill said he was concerned about public health issues given the heightened risk of future bushfires. He said a similar project had been extended after the temporary period in the Central Coast and Hunter Valley.