Air pollution in western world cities has been improving for decades
as technology has improved vehicle internal combustion engines and also
lower sulphur fuels have reduced SO2 emissions. These vital facts so
inconvenient to the Greens, and the over green EPA bureaucracies
plus the anti-car brigade, have been very slow to penetrate
the screen of green media bias and it is only since 2000 that scraps of
truth slip out saying that AQ is improving.
Added March 2008: Beijing Olympics air quality issues
Two places I have obtained data for are Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and Perth, in Western Australia.
Obviously my pages on tropospheric ozone also go to a major air quality issue, that of smog.
The Commonwealth Government has just ( April 2004) brought out a huge new study into air quality (AQ) in all our cities, "State of the Air" (SOTA).
SOTA, concludes that our AQ is generally improving except for ozone.
On the following grounds SOTA should be re-written now.
 Exclusion of 1970's and 1980's Data:
Except for one or two stations from Qld and SA there is no recognition
or analyses of pre 1990 data, particularly I am talking about Sydney
and Melbourne ( see link above ) where the major amount of pioneering
data on Australian air quality was collected starting at
least as early as the 1960's. The Sydney and Melbourne
EPA's, our air quality bureaucracies publish no pre 1990 data because
it shows the HUGE improvements that have been made from the 1960's,
'70's and '80's and they want these inconvenient facts censored out of
Australian scientific history. This graphic of inner city
Melbourne ozone from 1974 to 2001 illustrates why
SOTA must include these early data. Click graph for large image.
The SOTA readings on my graphic are higher than my inner city readings because usually the peak ozone is found at fringe urban stations, such as Point Cook. In early deacades such fringe urban localities were not sampled to the same extent as they are now. The Commonwealth department that produced SOTA, Dept. of Environment and heritage should be ashamed for meekly going along with this scheme and should have demanded all these early data.
 Out of date when published: SOTA launched in April 2004 yet only has data to 2001 which is unacceptable because before SOTA was launched the NSW EPA had 2002 data summaries downloadable from their web site. We know the public service can be slow and ponderous but this takes the cake. In these days of powerful desk top computing and the top drawer highly skilled staff in Canberra, it would have been only a few days work at most to update SOTA with 2002 data.
 Lazy non inclusion of 2002 data artificially increased ozone trends and rising ozone was major SOTA finding: One of the main findings of SOTA is that except for ozone, the various AQ species measured are steadily improving. When we examine the ozone graphics in SOTA, a "Drovers Dog" could see that the adverse trends in increasing ozone they report might be influenced unduly by high numbers for 2001. Taking an hour or so of downloading, reading, entering data into MS Excel that most school kids could use, I discover that NSW 1 hour max ozone in the summer months (Jan-Feb-Dec) of 2002 averaged 0.088 ppm for the stations Lindfield, Rozelle, Earlwood, Blacktown, Warrawong, Bargo. The same stations for those exact same months in 2001 averaged 0.104 ppm, which is a very large difference for ozone and means almost certainly that had the authors of SOTA been savvy enough to get the latest data updates, their rising ozone trends would have been less. Of course ozone trends would be even less again or even falling had the authors of SOTA really informed the Australian people and demanded the 1970's and 1980's data out of the Sydney and Melbourne EPA Mandarins.
 Censoring out embarrassing stations: Another shortcoming of SOTA in respect of ozone is that both the Sydney and Melbourne EPA's have excluded stations from the rural fringe that produced some of the the highest ozone readings ( at the same time as having low NOx readings) see my ozone page. These stations are Mount Cottrell west of Melbourne and Camden Air Port SW of Sydney. Obviously these stations data do not enhance the silly EPA theory of ozone formation that tends to ignore natural ozone. Rottnest Island from the Indian Ocean near Perth has ozone readings from the mid 1990's which are as high as Perth stations, (see hourly data graphic in my ozone section) and has also been censored out. I am not familiar with states data other than NSW, Vic and WA, who knows what else has been omitted.
On the basis of these 4 points illustrating unscientific shortcomings "State of the Air" should be re-written with the 2002 update, inclusion of all 1960's, 1970's and 1980's historical data and ALL available stations.
Australian Government survey of air quality history
from all cities