ONE look outside the window on Tuesday and you could tell that air around Ballarat was bad due to the bushfires still raging in eastern Victoria and Tasmania.
But if you want to know how poor it was, you would have to rely on Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) statistics from more than 60km away in Melton to find the nearest monitoring device.
The EPA has 21 monitoring devices scattered throughout the state, the majority of these are in Melbourne or the Latrobe Valley. There are none west of Geelong or Melton in the state.
When contacted on Tuesday, the EPA admitted the state was seeing unprecedented weather this summer.
"EPA monitors air quality in Victoria in a number of ways and the information it gathers is published on the EPA AirWatch website," a spokesperson said.
"In regional Victoria air quality is normally very good but at this time all of Victoria is experiencing unprecedented air quality issues and EPA is providing daily forecasts and a four-day outlook for each of the nine weather districts."
The EPA said it had deployed mobile units across the most troublesome areas of the state to monitor the air, but admitted, not much could be done unless wind blew in the right direction.
"EPA manages a network of 21 permanent air monitoring stations across Melbourne, Geelong, Wangaratta and the Latrobe Valley and monitors typical pollutants produced by the heavily industrialised urban environment," the spokesperson said.
"To assist with air quality issues during an incident, EPA has mobile Incident Air Monitoring (IAM) units that can be deployed where it is most needed, close to significantly impacted communities, during emergencies such as major bushfires.
"EPA works in partnership with 14 specially trained and equipped VICSES units (including Ballarat, Hamilton and Stawall) whose volunteers provide rapid deployment to incidents in theirs and nearby areas."
The EPA did not answer questions relating to whether there were plans for monitoring devices in the west of the state.
For those wondering how bad the air got around Ballarat, the worst we can offer you is a reading which peaked at 1112.7 between 10pm and 11pm on Monday night.
For the majority of Tuesday, air quality out of Melton rated between the 450 and 550 mark, still well into the hazardous zone, which is above 300. A good rating is 50 or below.
But if you thought it was bad here, spare a thought for our neighbours north of the border, particularly around Canberra, right in the middle of all the fires.
The nation's capital - population 400,000 - has experienced officially the worst air quality anywhere in the world during this bushfire season, peaking at a astronomical 5185 on January 1.
For those suffering breathing problems due to the air quality, Ambulance Victoria has a few tips including remaining indoors with doors and windows shut and if you are using air conditioning, switch it to 'recycle' or 'recirculate' mode.
Acting Director of Emergency Management Justin Dunlop said children and people with pre-existing health conditions are at greatest risk.
"The children, the elderly, people with asthma, emphysema and heart disease are at a greater risk of being affected by smoke," Mr Dunlop said.
"Symptoms can include itchy eyes, sore throat and runny nose through to shortness of breath, coughing, vomiting, nausea, and confusion."
The Bureau of Meteorology said smoke haze will continue into Wednesday before a late wind change.
Showers and storms are likely in the afternoon with a 90 per cent chance of 10-20mm of rain falling. Ballarat is heading for a top temperature Wednesday of 31 degrees, but just 20 on Thursday.
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