A breath of fresh air

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

They look like gar­den sheds but inside is the equip­ment that mon­i­tors the air we breathe.

The Auck­land Re­gional Coun­cil has 15 air qual­ity sta­tions scat­tered across the re­gion be­cause spe­cial­ist Janet Petersen says it’s vi­tal to get a good pic­ture of the area’s pol­lu­tion lev­els.

The main pol­luters are ve­hi­cles, do­mes­tic and out­door fires, in­dus­try and spray drift, but she says in win­ter pol­lu­tion from do­mes­tic fires rock­ets and is re­spon­si­ble for 65 per­cent of the re­gion’s pol­lu­tion.

Pol­lu­tion par­ti­cles are in­vis­i­ble to the naked eye and are so fine they re­main sus­pended in the air for up to 40 days.

Ms Petersen says breath­ing clean air is ev­ery­body’s right but last year Auck­land breached the na­tional stan­dards for fine par­ti­cles seven times.

“The health risks de­pend on the pol­lu­tant but chil­dren, the el­derly and peo­ple with lung ill­nesses like asthma are most at risk,” she says.

While there have been no breaches this year some are ex­pected in win­ter, she says.

But Ms Petersen says there are things peo­ple can do.

“Those who use fires should make sure they burn dry, sea­soned wood of a rea­son­able size, and not leave fires smoul­der­ing overnight.

“And ve­hi­cles should be main­tained and ser­viced reg­u­larly,” she says.

The coun­cil’s new­est air qual­ity sta­tion was built in Orewa last year and oth­ers are ear­marked for Wiri, Pa­p­a­toe­toe, Albany and Wai­heke.

Find­ing land with the right con­di­tions in the right area for the sta­tions can be dif­fi­cult.

“This year we lost one of our main sites in Kings­land when the school it was on wanted the land to build a pool on.”

Air ex­pert: Auck­land Re­gional Coun­cil air qual­ity spe­cial­ist Janet Petersen keeps an eye on the air we breathe, and doesn’t al­ways like what she sees.

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