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Nelson region

Air Quality

Air quality in Nelson is generally good except during cold still nights when air particulates, mainly emitted from home heating get trapped and build up. Nelson has four reqularly monitored airsheds.

Nelson’s air story
Air quality in Nelson is generally good except during cold and still weather conditions which can occur during the winter. Nelson's location is at the head of Tasman Bay and is flanked by hills on three sides. The hills deflect much of the prevailing wind and as a result Nelson's weather is characterised by low wind speeds and calm conditions usually occurring during winter and often lasting days or weeks on end. During the winter period most air particulate discharges come from home heating fires such as enclosed wood and/or coal burners (smoke). Where still conditions occur the smoke builds up until the weather conditions change and the wind gets up. Other sources of particulates include industrial processes such as boilers, motor vehicles and from natural sources such as airborne sea salt and dust particles.
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.
We all have a role to play in achieving cleaner, healthier air to breathe and Nelson City Council has been working with the community to improve air quality. There have been significant improvements since the early 2000s.
Nelson has defined four separate air quality management areas (airsheds) and has a permanent PM10 monitoring station in each. You can find information for all current and previously monitored sites here and see how they compare from year to year, and against the national guidelines.
Annual average PM10 concentrations in most airsheds are below national guidelines. During still, cold days in winter, daily average PM10 concentrations can exceed national guidelines. Nelson City
Council has worked with the community to develop the Nelson Air Quality Plan which includes measures to manage all of these contaminants and meet national health-based guidelines.
The National Environmental Standards for air quality require no more than one day per year when the measured PM10 is greater than 50ug/m3 by 2020.

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 the Nelson urban area, particularly during the winter period when cold still conditions prevent dispersion and allow the particulate matter to build up. Exposure to PM10 can have short and long term health effects. The Council  reports on annual and daily PM10 concentrations each year for four sites. Trends are reported for our two longer record sites at St Vincent St (Nelson South) and Blackwood St (Tahunanui). 

  • 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 4

Towns in the Nelson region

Select the town you'd like to see information on by clicking the buttons below or navigate using the map.