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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 burners (smoke). Where still conditions occur the smoke builds up until the weather conditions change and the wind increases. 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.

Regional Summary
PM10and PM2.5at 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). 

PM monitoring history at towns in this region

  • Annual average
  • Highest daily average
  • Exeedance
Showing:
PM10

Guideline


Concentration






% of guideline

What is this showing me?

The graph shows the annual average and highest daily average PM10 concentrations, and number of exceedance days for the year selected. These are shown against air quality guidelines of 20 µg/m³ for annual averages and 50 µg/m³ for daily averages. The World Health Organisation published new guidelines in September 2021 of 10 µg/m³ for annual averages and 45 µg/m³ for daily averages. Values above the guidelines can be a cause for concern as exposure to high PM10 values can cause short and long term health effects. The trends in the table below indicate whether the PM10 concentrations have been improving, showing no measurable change, or declining over the previous 10-years. (For towns that have more than one monitoring site, a representative site is shown).

Data table PM10
Towns 10-year Trend annual average (µg/m³) Highest daily average (µg/m³) 2nd highest daily average (µg/m³) Number of exceedances
PM2.5

Guideline


Concentration






% of guideline

What is this showing me?

The graph shows the annual average and highest daily average PM2.5 concentrations, and number of exceedance days for the year selected. These are shown against air quality guidelines of 10 µg/m³ for annual averages and 25 µg/m³ for daily averages. The World Health Organisation published new guidelines in September 2021 of 5 µg/m³ for annual averages and 15 µg/m³ for daily averages. Values above the guidelines can be a cause for concern as exposure to high PM2.5 values can cause short and long term health effects. The trends in the table below indicate whether the PM2.5 concentrations have been improving, showing no measurable change, or declining over the previous 10-years. (For towns that have more than one monitoring site, a representative site is shown).

Data table PM2.5
Towns 10-year Trend annual average (µg/m³) Highest daily average (µg/m³) 2nd highest daily average (µg/m³) Number of exceedances
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.