ENVIRONMENT

Te Kuiti air quality breaches national standard again in July

Friday 7 August 2009, 12:16PM
By Waikato Regional Council
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TE KUITI

Now is a great time to start thinking about buying firewood for next winter, so it’s nice and dry by the time you use it, Environment Waikato says.

Burning dry firewood is one thing Te Kuiti people can do to help improve local air quality, as dry wood produces less smoke.

“We encourage people to buy their firewood in spring or summer,” said EW air quality scientist Dr Nick Kim.

“It’s generally cheaper and getting it early gives you more time to stack and dry it before use.”

Dr Kim’s advice follows the release of regional council air quality monitoring figures for July, which show the National Environmental Standard (NES) for air quality was exceeded again in Te Kuiti last month. There were three breaches of the standard in June.

Air quality is assessed by measuring the amount of fine particles (PM10) in the air. These tiny particles are not visible to the human eye and are small enough to get into human lungs and cause serious health problems.

The NES says PM10 should not exceed 50 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3) of air more than once over a 24-hour period, but it was exceeded in Te Kuiti on July 10, with 52μg/m3 recorded.

“In winter in Te Kuiti, most PM10 comes from smoke from wood burned in homes, not from industry or vehicles,” Dr Kim said.

“People need to stay warm, but there are simple things you can do to cut down the amount of PM10 coming out of you chimney, such as burning dry wood, giving your fire plenty of air so it burns hotter and cleaner, not overloading the fire and not damping down your burner overnight.”

Visit www.ew.govt.nz/firewood for great tips on how to get the most heat from your firewood, save money and reduce PM10 emissions to improve the health of your family and your neighbours.

EW has been working with a number of local agencies to address air quality problems in Te Kuiti by helping people replace smoky wood burners with clean burning appliances and insulate their homes to improve energy efficiency.