Pollution is up in the air
A new study of unseen factors in Auckland’s air may save your woodburner from extinction.
That reprieve is a possibility after earlier Auckland Council thinking warned such burners could be banned.
Now there’s growing suspicion that natural factors might also be a major pollution enemy.
Dr Jan Wright, the parliamentary commissioner for the environment, has told MPs that air quality regulations need to be reviewed.
She rates the country’s air quality as generally good – but says the regulations around in-house wood fires need strengthening.
Andrea Birtwistle, the council’s senior communications specialist in bylaws communications and engagement, says Auckland Council welcomes the commissioner’s comments.
That new thinking significantly includes PM2.5, the need to measure ‘‘particulate matter’’ in the air which is more harmful to human health in the long-term.
Those fine particulates are invisible to the human eye and can be produced from natural sources such as pollen and sea spray as well as by human sources like vehicle emissions, industrial activities … and indoor domestic fires.
The council last year proposed an Air Quality Bylaw to meet the national standards, as all councils are required to do. The leaning was then towards a ban on woodburners. Its staff have been publicly coy about cause and outcomes and have met government officials in Wellington to discuss the nature and scale of air pollution in Auckland and the effect of the current national standards.
The latest council release quotes regulatory and bylaws committee chairman Calum Penrose:
‘‘A key issue raised by the commissioner is that the New Zealand standard for air pollution is based on short-term exposure to PM10. But, most importantly, long-term exposure to PM2.5 needs to be dealt with because of its greater effects on health. Auckland Council has also raised the same issue and welcomes the commissioner’s recommendation to Parliament to review the current air quality rules.’’
The council monitors PM10 (natural and man-made sources) as required under national standards.
Monitoring PM2.5 could also provide a clearer picture of the pollution caused by man-made sources like combustion in domestic heating appliances, motor vehicles and industrial processes.
Two compliance standards for PM2.5 included in the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan will help guide the region in protecting public health and the environment.
Presumably those ‘‘Urban Airsheds’’ revealed last week will play a part which might not necessarily lead to woodburner extinction.
Penrose says Parliament will need to carefully consider the recommendations made to update the air quality rules.
‘‘The council looks forward to collaborating with the government to regulate air quality in a way suitable for Auckland.’’ Small talk: ‘‘Congratulations to Michael Tavares and supporters for knocking some sense into our council and their numerous officials over the kauri.
‘‘If one can save a tree by tying oneself to it then surely one can stop a wharf extension by attaching boats to it or anchoring close by. I doubt the harbourmaster will be impressed but media coverage of any forced removal might slow down.’’ – Michael Baylis, Ponsonby Confession corner: Who was among the know-alls who slagged off the appointment of Black Caps selector and coach Mike Hesson, bewailing the fact he had no career in first class cricket … etc? I’ll tell you in small print as long as you promise not to pass it on. A misguided critic: Pat Booth!
Reader feedback: ‘‘If one can save a tree by tying oneself to it then surely one can stop a wharf extension by attaching boats to it or anchoring close by.’’