New Zealanders are encouraged to visit the LAWA website this winter to check out up to the hour air quality results for towns and cities across the country. LAWA believes in quality air for all, so will also be sharing air care tips and info to support people to continue improving air quality where they are.
Humans breathe in around 14,000 litres of air every day, and pollutants in this air can have adverse health effects. The young, elderly, and those with pre-existing respiratory and heart conditions are most at risk when air pollutants are high.
Air Quality Analyst Ms Aberkane leads the behind the scenes air quality work for LAWA and said, “The air pollutant of most concern in many New Zealand towns is particulate matter. This is monitored by regional councils and unitary authorities in the form of PM10; particles small enough to be inhaled.
“LAWA shows the most recent PM10 data from all active monitoring stations and additional air quality indicators for sites where these are monitored,” said Ms Aberkane.
Ms Aberkane advised air quality in most regions of New Zealand has improved in recent years; yet burning wood and coal for home heating remains the primary source of PM10 in many New Zealand towns.
New Zealanders can help ensure quality air for all this winter by:
- Using clean heating such as heatpumps, pellet burners, or ultra-low emission burners.
- Only burning dry, non-treated wood in wood burners and using an efficient burning technique.
- Refraining from outdoor burning and instead composting, mulching, or using kerb-side collection services or a transfer station.
- Choosing lower-emission transport options.
LAWA Chair Stephen Woodhead said weather also plays a role in air quality. Still conditions and cold temperatures effectively trap air pollutants in our towns and cities.
“Broadly speaking air quality in New Zealand is pretty good, but that’s not to say we don’t have our challenges. Concentrations of PM10 are often highest on cold evenings when people are most likely to be keeping their homes warm by burning wood. If there is very little wind at the same time, smoke is not blown away, allowing PM10 concentrations to build up in the air we breathe.
“Already this winter, some towns have exceeded government-set standards for PM10. We can all do our bit to reduce local air pollution by following LAWA recommendations and council guidelines.
“I encourage everyone to visit the LAWA website to get familiar with air quality where they are, so they might join our effort and contribute to quality air for all,” said Mr Woodhead.
Winter air quality data is live on the LAWA website now: www.LAWA.org.nz. For most regions, hourly monitoring results are available as well as historical data showing how air quality has changed over time. By understanding changes in air quality, people can make informed decisions for their family and contribute to the effort to reduce pollutants.
Winter can be a tough time for households trying to keep a warm, dry home on a budget. That’s why LAWA has also put together a list of places where people can find or give support:
- Contact your local regional council or unitary authority. Many offer financial assistance schemes, supporting households to heat, insulate, and/or switch to cleaner heating.
- If your house is not insulated then you may be eligible for the Government’s Warmer Kiwi Homes scheme: https://www.energywise.govt.nz/funding-and-support/funding-for-insulation/warmer-kiwi-homes/
- Work and Income NZ may provide additional support for people with illness, disability, or in financial hardship: https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/
- Supergold card holders may be eligible for discounts on firewood, insultation, and heat pumps: https://www.supergold.govt.nz/directory/
- Donate time or money to charities that help support those in need through winter. For example Salvation Army, Warming Hearts Trust, Auckland Foundation etc.
- Give curtains to the Red Cross and NZ Post Curtain Call campaign: https://www.nzpost.co.nz/about-us/sponsorship/curtain-call