Smoke stack

Urban and regional air pollution is a significant environmental threat.


Our scientists are working with industry, regulators and the community to combat air, land and water pollution.

  • 1 November 2007 | Updated 14 October 2011

Pollution threatens environmental sustainability and can have harmful effects on human health. 

It is a complex and far reaching problem and includes:

  • air pollution: urban and regional air pollution is a significant environmental threat. Industry, power generation and motor vehicles release pollutants that can lead to photochemical smog, haze and acidification
  • land pollution: land pollution can be caused by poor agricultural practices, pesticide use, mineral exploitation, industrial discharges and indiscriminate disposal of urban wastes
  • water pollution: poor water quality and sediment quality are the most serious pollution issues affecting our coastal and marine environments - in Australia, it has been estimated that land-based contaminants contribute up to 80 per cent of all marine pollution and pose a major threat to the long-term health of coastal waterways.

Both the nature and impact of pollution depend on a host of factors.

These include:

  • the sources of pollutants
  • key transport processes (for example, run-off or spray drift)
  • potential build-up of pollutants due to long-term or repeated exposure.

So what is the state of air, land and water quality in Australia and how can consumers, governments and industry reduce pollution?

Air, land and water pollution threatens environmental sustainability and can have harmful effects on human health.

CSIRO researchers are helping answer these questions by:

  • monitoring environmental contaminants
  • developing cleaner industrial and energy processes
  • introducing clever remediation techniques.

CSIRO solutions

Pollution problems can often be minimised, or even avoided completely.

CSIRO scientists work with industry, regulatory bodies and the community to deliver commercially-viable and cost-effective pollution solutions.

These are based on our understanding of the sources, fate and behaviour of contaminants as they disperse through our water, soils and  atmosphere.

For managing hazardous contaminants, our researchers have developed scientifically sound:

  • risk assessment tools
  • monitoring technologies
  • remediation techniques.

This expertise underpins regulatory approaches aimed at better management of industrial emissions, urban wastes and agricultural discharges.

Collaborative approach

To meet Australia’s pollution challenges, we have established the Centre for Environmental Contaminants Research, which brings together our extensive expertise on the contamination of water, soils and the atmosphere.

This centre has world-class analytical capabilities for sampling and analysis.

CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research's atmospheric scientists are instrumental in Australian efforts to investigate the airborne particles that cause air pollution, a major environmental issue that affects people’s health, reduces visibility, and influences climate.

Find out more about CSIRO Land and Water or CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric's capability in Measuring, monitoring and analysing air pollution.