Pol­lu­tion lev­els are breached

Central Leader - - News -

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.

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