Pollution levels are breached
Auckland’s air pollution has exceeded safe health levels for the first time this year.
National environmental standards were breached at the Auckland Regional Council’s Pakuranga air quality station on May 29, and air quality specialist Janet Petersen says more breaches are expected as winter grips the region.
Pollution particles are invisible to the naked eye and are so fine they remain suspended in the air for up to 40 days.
At this time of year, woodburners and open fires are the main reason pollution exceeds healthy levels, she says.
In winter, home heating causes 65 percent of the region’s air pollution.
“Breathing clean air is everybody’s right, but when air quality is bad it seriously affects people’s health,” she says.
Those affected most are young children, the elderly and people with breathing difficulties.
A major government study, Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand – Hapinz – released last year, found domestic fires, vehicle emissions and industry pollution causes the premature deaths of more than 500 people in Auckland each year.
Ms Petersen is urging everyone to make sure their chimneys are swept regularly to ensure their woodburners operate correctly.
“People should also make sure their wood is dry and seasoned, no larger than 10cm thick, and should keep their fires burning brightly.”
She also suggests people consider beefing-up home insulation and look at alternative heating options such as heat pumps.
The council has 15 air quality stations scattered across the region to measure pollution levels. Last year Auckland breached the national standards seven times.