Residents of Centennial Park, Rushcutters Bay, and Glebe can breathe easy, with researchers at the University of Technology, Sydney, finding that these three areas have the lowest levels of airborne particulate matter in inner Sydney. The joint study between the City of Sydney and researchers from the UTS Plants and Environmental Quality Research Group, surveyed the air quality in 11 sites over the space of a year.

Researchers found that plans for the next 15 years to increase Sydney’s tree canopy cover by 50 per cent would have a bigger impact on reducing air pollution – including dust, dirt and smoke – than if the city were to reduce traffic. “Up until now we’ve only had estimates of Sydney’s air quality which is, perhaps, surprisingly poorly studied. There are only two routine sampling sites, Rozelle and Randwick, providing data,” said Peter Irga, a PhD candidate in the School of Life Sciences.

Sydney Park, Centennial Park, Rushcutters Bay, Prince Alfred Park, Surry Hills, Chippendale, Glebe, Haymarket, Zetland, Town Hall and Pitt Street were the 11 sites at which Mr Irga and his team measured the link between urban forestry and dangerous fine airborne particles known as particulate matter. Town Hall, Pitt Street and Haymarket recorded the lowest levels of green space and the highest concentrations of particulate matter. “Regardless of where you are in Sydney, the volume of trees within 100m radii [boundary] of where you are is the most important determinant of the air you are breathing,” Mr Irga said.

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