The potential for clear, cold weather to push air pollution levels over the health guidelines was evident last week when Timaru notched up five high pollution days in succession.
Yesterday Timaru again exceeded the guidelines for the 23rd time this year. By the same date last year, 19 days of high pollution had been recorded. Waimate and Geraldine have also recently added to the number of high pollution days.
The government has set air quality standards based on World Health Organisation standards to help improve air quality. That target is for no more than three days of high pollution by 1 September 2016 and only one by 1 September 2020.
“The Canterbury community has told us they value clean air and we are working with the Timaru District Council to help the community understand the significant role home heating has in air pollution, so we can meet these targets,” says Environment Canterbury Air portfolio Director Katherine Trought.
“Even newer log burners, when not operated correctly, contribute to pollution levels and so we’re encouraging people to find out how to burn better. More information on this can be found on the Home Heating Association website, or via letscleartheair.co.nz.
“Replacing an open fire or older burner with a modern appliance will also help cut harmful emissions.
Katherine Trought explains that the numbers of high pollution nights this winter are concerning as research shows there is no safe level, from a health perspective, of polluting PM10s.
“Because of the impact air pollution has on health and the national standards that have been set, we are determined to work with the community to achieve Canterbury’s low pollution goals by 2016 and 2020.’’