Filthy air is still over­head in Toko­roa

South Waikato News - - Front Page - LUKE KIRKEBY

The cas­tle on the hill has over­looked Ti­rau for al­most 17 years and now it could be yours.

Toko­roa’s air qual­ity re­mains one of the worst in the coun­try with the town con­tin­u­ing to breach na­tional air qual­ity stan­dards.

The South Waikato town has been breach­ing stan­dards 15 to 20 times ev­ery win­ter since record­ing be­gan in 2005 and at times has ex­ceeded the daily limit by 55 per cent.

Toko­roa has un­til Septem­ber 2020 to get breaches down to the stan­dards’ lee­way of one ev­ery 12 months but in its cur­rent state ex­perts warn it’s on track to fail.

And Mayor Jenny Shat­tock isn’t op­posed to bring­ing in a by­law to help com­bat the prob­lem.

‘‘Twice be­fore we have tried to use the carrot ap­proach rather than the stick ap­proach. We have not had a by­law in place as we wanted to put the fo­cus and em­pha­sis on ed­u­ca­tion and part­ner­ships and we have gone out and worked hard with pro­grammes that ad­dress is­sues of clean air in our dis­trict,’’ she said.

‘‘We have got some big think­ing to do be­cause when we did put it out for con­sul­ta­tion in the early days there was quite a back­lash from our com­mu­nity.’’

The main con­trib­u­tors to the poor air qual­ity were old wood­burn­ers, peo­ple burn­ing wet, painted or treated wood, dirty chim­neys, and in­ad­e­quate flue heights.

In 2005 the Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Stan­dards for Air Qual­ity (NESAQ) to com­bat global emis­sions, re­quir­ing Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment de­fined ar­eas, known as air­sheds, to emit no more than 50 mi­cro­grams of PM10 air­borne par­ti­cles per cu­bic me­tre of air.

PM10 par­ti­cles, which are one­fifth of the di­am­e­ter of hu­man hair, can lodge in peo­ple’s lungs and cause se­ri­ous health prob­lems lead­ing to pre­ma­ture death.

Although the South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil, Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil, Waikato Dis­trict Health Board, and the En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency and Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity (EECA) have made in­roads through schemes and ini­tia­tives­the NESAQ 2020 in­terim tar­get for Toko­roa was still well off track.

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