Town’s pol­lu­tion lev­els low

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Taihape - ALISTER BROWNE

Tai­hape res­i­dents can breathe easy, it looks like air pol­lu­tion lev­els are well within safe lev­els de­spite a se­ries of still, frosty win­ter nights.

The find­ings are de­tailed in the lat­est air qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing re­port to the Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil en­vi­ron­ment com­mit­tee.

Tai­hape is one of the two ‘‘des­ig­nated air­sheds’’ in the coun­cil’s area – Tau­marunui is the other – which means that it could po­ten­tially breach na­tional air pol­lu­tion standards, a coun­cil spokesman said af­ter the meet­ing.

There are 80-odd such places around the coun­try.

Tai­hape was des­ig­nated in 2006 mainly, it seems, be­cause of its to­pog­ra­phy – the town is in a bowl – and its cen­tral North Is­land cli­mate.

The com­bined ef­fects of these mean that when the wind is not blow­ing and it is a cold win­ter’s night, the air over the town be­comes trapped, along with any pol­lu­tants from hu­man ac­tiv­ity un­der­neath.

In Tai­hape’s case, that is mostly from wood-burn­ing home fires as peo­ple light up to keep warm. It’s es­ti­mated 84 per cent of such air pol­lu­tion is caused by ‘‘fine par­ti­cle mat­ter’’ in the air gen­er­ated mostly by do­mes­tic heat­ing, wood fires in par­tic­u­lar. It is also this type of pol­lu­tion that causes breath­ing prob­lems to the young and old es­pe­cially, the spokesman said.

Most of the rest of air pol­lu­tion in a place like Tai­hape is caused by out­side back­yard burn­ing in the likes of in­cin­er­a­tors, which is why there is a lengthy list of things peo­ple are banned from burn­ing out­side, like tyres, plas­tics and paint.

Such an in­ci­dent was the chief sus­pect in two cases in Tai­hape in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary, when pol­lu­tion lev­els reached ‘‘alert’’ level, as mea­sured by the coun­cil’s air mon­i­tor­ing site at the fire sta­tion in Kuku St, he said.

The coun­cil did a drive-by and door-knocked in the area in search of the cul­prit, but no-one put their hand up – although the pol­lu­tion level fell af­ter they left.

Be­cause there is much less air pol­lu­tion around to­day, the coun­cil fig­ured its ed­u­ca­tion ef­forts were pay­ing off.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WILSON/STUFF

The air down Tai­hape’s main street isn’t too bad.

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