The 2019 Innovation and Excellence in Air Quality Awards were presented at the 24th International Clean Air and Environment Conference, held in Queenstown, New Zealand.

The Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand (CASANZ) conference brings together delegates from a variety of disciplines within the air quality industry.  The awards, presented at the conference’s Gala Dinner by special Guest Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Associate Minister for the Environment include the prestigious Clean Air Medal, which is given to those who have gone beyond the call o duty in the name of improving and preventing atmospheric pollution, and awards for Innovation, Industry Excellence, and Air Quality Champions.

CLEAN AIR MEDAL

The recipients of this year’s Clean Air Medals were Dr John Innis, Dr Andrea Hinwood and Jack Chiodo.

Senior Scientific Officer, Air, at EPA Tasmania, Dr John Innis has been dedicated to innovating and enhancing novel methods for measuring and assessing the impacts of wood smoke in Tasmania, through the implementation of a low-cost automatic air quality monitoring network known as BLANkET (Base-Line Air Network of EPA Tasmania).

John has been an active CASANZ member for many years and introduced a number of new initiatives to the Society, including establishing the Biomass Smoke in the Human Environment workshops and the creation of BIOMASS SIG, for which he acted as Chairman.  He has also played pivotal roles in many other initiatives and programs throughout Australia.

Dr Andrea Hinwood became Chief Environmental Scientist at EPA Victoria in 2017. Since then, she has has revitalised air quality science in Victoria through her contributions to several agencies, government departments, universities and the community, as well as instigating a successful Air Quality Strategy for Victoria that was adopted by the Minister.  She also participates in national committees, and stands as a board member of the Centre for Air Pollution, Energy and Health Research.  She is a tireless advocate for keeping the Australian people better informed about the air quality health they enjoy and value, and in making sure that quality is maintained.

Jack Chiodo has been an active member of CASANZ for many years.  He was awarded the honour of Distinguished Serviceman more than 10 years ago for contributions to the Society.
He was instrumental in the development of the National Environment Protection Measures (NEPMs), working with EPA in Victoria.  He has been pushing to promote and improve standards in submissions from the Society to government in many areas relating to air quality.

INNOVATION AWARDS

The Innovation Award was presented to Auckland company Aeroquol.  This award recognises an innovation that has widespread application, a new technology or approach to a problem that can benefit air quality.  It can be awarded to an individual or to a company, and the project can be at any stage of development.

Aeroquol has been an integral part of the team, led by the University of Auckland, which developed a system of low-cost, high density, air quality monitors for Los Angeles.  The Project involved the deployment of a network at scale in association with the South Coast Management district in Los Angeles, and showed how these systems can create data within a city with a variety of air qualities.  These systems were monitored from the Aeroquol operations centre in Auckland.

INDUSTRY EXCELLENCE AWARD

The Industry Excellence Award was presented to BHP Mt Arthur Coal.  This award is given to an organisation that has shown to be having a demonstrable effect on air quality.

BHP Mt Arthur Coal is a mine in the Upper Hunter Valley, an area that is subject to scrutiny from surrounding communities due to a high airborne particulate levels.  In order to mitigate this problem,
BHP Mt Arthur Coal leveraged expert teams across Australia to develop a Dust Control System.  This system involves an extensive network of real-time dust and meteorological monitors, which trigger alerts via a Business Intelligence Platform when the risk of airborne particulates is high, enabling timely decision-making on site and rapid determination of dust sources.  This in turn helps the company to gain confidence from the community, and results in a more environmentally friendly operation.

AIR QUALITY CHAMPION AWARDS

The 2019 Air Quality Champion Award winners were Dr Fay Johnston and Bill Hackshaw.  These awards are given to individuals who played notable roles through their leading involvement in a project that aided awareness, education and/or improvement in air quality over the past two years.

Dr Fay Johnston of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research is one of Australia’s lading epidemiologist studying the health impacts of wood smoke.  She is the principal leader and one of the creators of the AirRater project and smartphone app, which provides users with real-time air quality information and pollen count estimates.  The app can be customised for particular health concerns so that users can receive tailored air quality alerts.  Symptoms are also recorded and used for statistical epidemiology research into smoke related health issues.

Bill Hackshaw, Managing Director of Brolube in Auckland, has been involved in a series of training days run by the Minerals and Extractions Safety Council and WorkSafe NZ,
to mitigate the risk from Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) exposure.  He has introduced Cabin Overpressure and Filtration to these groups, a system which eliminates the presence of RCS exposure in the enclosed area of a machine cab or site control room.  He will be following up this series of training days, which carry through to the end of 2019, with site visits to increase awareness of the diseases caused by harmful airborne materials.

Nominated by other members of their team and the Society, the winners of these awards are much applauded by CASANZ and a great night was had by all.