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Canterbury region

Air Quality

Air quality in Canterbury is generally good but some of our towns and cities have an air quality problem during winter, most of it due to home heating. All current and previously monitored towns are listed in the Towns tab.

You can find information for all current and previously monitored towns on LAWA and see how they compare from year to year, and against the national guidelines. Environment Canterbury has monitored air quality in 13 Canterbury town and cities and in total there are 56 sites where air quality is, or has been, monitored.

During the winter our cold, still, frosty days mean the smoke from home heating isn’t blown away overnight and gets trapped until morning, when the air warms up or the wind picks up. The particulates from this smoke (and from sea salt, dust and cars) are known as PM10 and these tiny particles can get deep in to our lungs and cause health issues for some people.

The main source of  PM10 in Canterbury towns and cities is from smoke from home heating. Other sources of  PM10 may include industrial and commercial processes, motor vehicles and rural burning, as well as natural sources.

Annual average PM10 concentrations in most towns are below national guidelines. During still, cold days in winter, daily average PM10 concentrations can exceed national guidelines, with the main source of emissions  usually being from home heating.

We all have a role to play in achieving cleaner, healthier air to breathe and Environment Canterbury has been working with the community to improve air quality, and we’ve seen significant improvements since the late 1990s.  Find out about our community programme here (

As part of its air quality programme, Environment Canterbury has worked with the community to develop the Canterbury Air Regional Plan which includes measures to manage all contaminants and meet national health-based guidelines.
The National Environmental Standards require no more than one day per year when PM10 is greater than 50 ug/m3 in Rangiora and Geraldine and three days per year in Kaiapoi, Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru and Waimate, from 1 September 2016.

Regional Summary
PM10 at towns in this region

The most significant air pollutant in New Zealand are small airborne particles in our air (known as particulate matter). Particulate pollutants are of most concern in New Zealand because of their high concentrations in some of our towns. Exposure to high levels of airborne particle pollutants has the potential to cause respiratory and cardiovascular issues. View a factsheet on why air quality is important here.

PM10 is the main concern in Canterbury towns and cities. Exposure to PM10 can have short and long term health effects, and you can see both daily and annual PM10 concentrations below for each year chosen. Trends in the annual average are reported for the last ten years.  Only currently monitored sites are reported in this Regional Summary. There is more information about other monitoring sites in each Town Summary.

  • Annual average
  • Highest daily average



% of guideline

What is this graph showing me?

The graph shows the annual average or highest daily average PM10 concentrations for monitored town(s) in this region for the year selected. The PM10 concentrations are shown against the guidelines for air quality, and where concentrations exceed 100% of the guideline this can be a cause for concern, especially if this occurs on a frequent basis. (For a town that has more than one monitoring site, only one representative site is shown here).

Data table
Towns 10-year Trend annual average (µg/m³) Highest daily average (µg/m³) 2nd highest daily average (µg/m³)

What is this table showing me?

The table shows the annual average, and the dates of the highest and second highest daily average PM10 concentrations for monitored town(s) in the year selected. The 10-year trend indicates, in terms of PM10, whether the air quality has been improving, showing no measurable change, or declining over the last 10 years.

Towns 13