Many activities undertaken by people in their daily lives, such as at work, home, school and play, can adversely affect the environment, and they may contribute emissions to our air, land and water.
The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) is tracking pollution across Australia, and ensuring that the community has access to information about the emission and transfer of toxic substances which may affect them locally.
There has been increasing community demand to know about toxic substances emitted to the local environment. Australian, state and territory governments have agreed to legislation called National Environment Protection Measures (NEPMs), which help protect or manage particular aspects of the environment. Australian industries are required to monitor, measure and report their emissions under this legislation.
The desired environmental outcomes of the NPI program are to:
- maintain and improve air and water quality
- minimise environmental impacts associated with hazardous waste, and
- improve the sustainable use of resources.
The NPI contains data on 93 substances that have been identified as important due to their possible effect on human health and the environment. The data comes from facilities like mines, power stations and factories, and from other sources such as households and transport.
Facility operators determine their own emissions and transfers, and diffuse emissions from households and other sources like motor vehicles are estimated by government agencies.
Tracking pollution through the NPI is essential to enhance environmental quality; increase public and industry understanding of the types and quantities of toxic substances emitted into the environment and transferred off-site as waste; encourage industry to use cleaner production techniques to reduce emissions and waste generation; track environmental progress; meet community right-to-know obligations; and assist government in identifying priorities for environmental decision-making.