Cleaner air for vulnerable people – Finding better locations for essential building premises

Publication Name

City and Environment Interactions


Long-term exposure to ambient air pollution even at relatively low concentrations is associated with adverse health effects especially for children, the elderly and people with pre-existing chronic disease. Due to a variety of urban planning decisions, essential building premises attended by these vulnerable groups may be sited in locations exposed to higher levels of air pollution. Using high spatial resolution air pollution concentrations estimated by satellite-based Land Use Regression (LUR) models in Australia, we mapped and approximated the annual average concentrations of particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at schools, child care centres, aged care facilities and hospitals across Sydney. We found that 137 (3.1 %) and 287 (6.4 %) of the total number of essential buildings assessed were exposed to annual average PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations, respectively, where: the air pollutant concentrations were greater than the median concentration of other locations in the surrounding Local Government Area (LGA), and; air pollutant levels were greater than the 90th percentile concentrations for Sydney, and; air pollution at the essential building location was at least 1 µg/m3 for PM2.5 or 2 ppb for NO2 greater than the 25th percentile concentration of other locations in the LGA. Based on these criteria, we found that many essential building premises in Sydney were in high air pollution locations and there were other meaningfully lower air pollution locations within the surrounding area. Air quality is becoming an increasingly important issue for local jurisdictions to consider as more essential amenities are required to serve denser populations in busier places exposed to more air pollution. Our study showed that high resolution maps can be used as a health-based planning tool to encourage the siting of buildings at locations better protective of health.

Open Access Status

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Article Number


Funding Sponsor

National Health and Medical Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)