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Waikato region

Air Quality

Air quality in the Waikato region is generally good but during winter, concentrations of fine particulate matter are high in some urban areas at times. This is mainly due to solid fuel burners and open fires.

Waikato Regional Council monitors air quality in urban areas across the Waikato region. PM10 and PM2.5 are the airborne particulate contaminant indicators typically associated with domestic woodburner smoke and the region’s main air contaminants of concern. The Regional Policy Statement focus for air is avoidance of unacceptable risks to human health and ecosystems, with achieving compliance with National Environmental Standards a high priority. Emphasis is placed on controlling discharges from solid fuel burners and open fires, the main source of air pollution in our region, but also recognises the importance of controlling discharges from other sources such as transport and industry and also outdoor burning.  Air quality is worst in urban areas where cold, calm conditions occur over winter and there is a large number of woodburners. The region’s best areas are typically where there is good air movement over winter, such as coastal towns or towns where there is a low density of woodburners. The Waikato region has 20 gazetted urban airsheds: Cambridge, Hamilton, Huntly, Matamata, Morrinsville, Ngaruawahia, Otorohanga, Paeroa, PutaruruTaupo, Te Aroha, Te Awamutu-Kihikihi, Te KuitiThamesTokoroa, Tuakau, Turangi, Waihi, Whangamata and Whitianga. The seven airsheds identified in bold are currently monitored by Waikato Regional Council for PM10  with the addition of PM2.5 in Hamilton, Tokoroa, Te Kuiti and Taupo. Four of these airsheds also have meteorological stations installed. In addition, the town of Huntly is monitored at two sites within the Huntly airshed by Genesis Energy Ltd., as a requirement of their air discharge consent for operation of the Huntly Power Station. Monitoring data for the Huntly airshed is not included on this website because it is not collected by Waikato Regional Council’s monitoring programme. Since the 20 urban airsheds were gazetted, Putaruru, Taupo, Te Kuiti and Tokoroa have been classified as being polluted as defined by the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. Currently, only Tokoroa is classified as being polluted. Six of the gazetted airsheds (Otorohanga, Paeroa, Te Aroha, Tuakau, Whangamata and Whitianga) have yet to be monitored. Long term monitoring of benzene and associated monoaromatic compounds (BTEX) has also been undertaken at seven passive traffic monitoring sites around Hamilton. Waikato Regional Council has also undertaken short term survey monitoring of NO2, SO2, CO and O3 in Hamilton, NO2 in Matamata and Tokoroa and O3 in Coromandel township.

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 Waikato towns. Exposure to PM10 can have short and long term health effects. We report on annual and daily PM10 concentrations each year. Trends are reported for towns where we have 10 or more years of PM10 concentrations. For towns with more than one monitoring site, only one site is reported here, to show variation between towns.

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 13