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Snow-filled winter produces mixed pollution result

September 28, 2006


MEDIA STATEMENT

Snow-filled winter produces mixed pollution results for Canterbury towns and cities

While air pollution is trending downwards in Christchurch, the rest of the region’s towns and cities like Timaru are also getting the message that something has to be done to meet the new National Environmental Standard for air quality by 2013. Christchurch has had a targeted rate Clean Heat Project running for close to four years now and air pollution levels are trending downwards as more and more home owners switch to cleaner forms of heating and install insulation.

If the national standard is not achieved by 2013, industries and schools applying for resource consents to discharge air pollution, often from boilers, potentially face being turned down unless they can suggest an “offset” or way to negate their pollution by removing an equivalent amount of pollution elsewhere in the town.

In Timaru, LineTrust South Canterbury had come to the party with innovative ways of encouraging people to install significantly reduced price heat pumps and ECan was happy working in partnership to find solutions tailored to local communities

Generally this winter air pollution results have varied from town to town, although Timaru has now replaced Christchurch as the region’s most polluted urban centre, based on the average air pollution recorded over a 24-hour period.

Cr Richard Budd, chair of ECan’s air portfolio committee, noted that ways to reduce air pollution in places like Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Ashburton, Timaru, Geraldine and Waimate were about to begin. In Timaru, Rangiora and Kaiapoi discussions with the community through ECan’s Long Term Council Community Plan had already started the process. “It good to see that local councils and companies like LineTrust South Canterbury are working together to reach excellent solutions in places like Timaru. We need to have that level of local buy-in and creativity across the region to ensure the 2013 target is met,” Cr Budd said.

Region-wide detailed overview:

The number of high pollution days that occur each winter depends on the weather as well as how much air pollution is produced. In Canterbury weather conditions inland have meant calm conditions whereas coastal towns like Christchurch and timaru had cloud and night-time breezes this winter. This resulted in fewer than average days of high air pollution in Christchurch and Timaru and more in Ashburton, Rangiora and Waimate. This winter Timaru, Ashburton, Rangiora and Waimate experienced their worst ever high pollution day. The highest daily concentration in Christchurch was the worst since 2002 and in Kaiapoi, the worst daily concentration this winter was the worst since 2003.

Background to these figures:

Air pollution is classified as “high” when it exceed 50 micrograms of particle pollution (ie particles which lodge in your lungs and affects respiratory function) or PM10 per cubic metre of air, averaged over 24 hours. For further background on how pollution levels are measured go to: http://www.ecan.govt.nz/Our+Environment/Air/Air+monitoring/how-we-monitor.htm

Christchurch had 32 high air pollution days this winter, with a maximum particulate pollution level reading of 183, averaged over 24 hours.
Following are the total number of days greater than 50 during the year and the maximum 24 hour average measured at the St Albans monitoring site:

2005 32 days >50 147 maximum concentration on June 29
2004 36 days >50 135 maximum concentration on July 9
2003 41 days >50 136 maximum concentration on June 26
2002 28 days >50 214 maximum concentration on July 20
2001 52 days >50 220 maximum concentration on July 31
2000 31 days >50 182 maximum concentration on June 20
1999 51 days >50 194 maximum concentration on June 29

Kaiapoi had 28 high air pollution days this winter, with a maximum particulate pollution level reading of 159, averaged over 24 hours.
Following are the total number of days greater than 50 during the year and the maximum 24 hour average measured:
2005 17 days >50 152 maximum concentration on July 24
2004 17 days >50 99 maximum concentration on June 28
2003 35 days >50 163 maximum concentration on June 22
2002 30 days >50 138 maximum concentration on July 19
2001 40 days >50 154 maximum concentration on June 21

Rangiora had 14 high air pollution days this winter, with a maximum particulate pollution level reading of 136, averaged over 24 hours.
Following are the total number of days greater than 50 during the year and the maximum 24 hour average measured in Rangiora:

2005 10 days >50 99 maximum concentration on July 24
2004 6 days >50 78 maximum concentration on July 5
2000 7 days >50 97 maximum concentration on June 9
1999 11 days >50 87 maximum concentration on June 7

Timaru has had 36 high air pollution days this winter, with a maximum particulate pollution level reading of 195, averaged over 24 hours.
Following are the total number of days greater than 50 during the year and the maximum 24 hour average measured:
2005 48 days >50 109 maximum concentration on June 20
2004 40 days >50 117 maximum concentration on July 14
2003 51 days >50 155 maximum concentration on July 26
2002 33 days >50 107 maximum concentration on July 10
2001 50 days >50 154 maximum concentration on June 13
2000 52 days >50 162 maximum concentration on July 12
1999 48 days >50 152 maximum concentration on June 11

Ashburton has had 28 high air pollution days this winter, with a maximum particulate pollution level reading of 178, averaged over 24 hours.
Following are the total number of days greater than 50 during the year and the maximum 24 hour average measured:
2005 18 days >50 89 maximum concentration on March 6 (80 on June 23)
2000 17 days >50 97 maximum concentration on July 13
1999 13 days >50 94 maximum concentration on July 15

Waimate has had 9 high air pollution days this winter, with a maximum particulate pollution level reading of 95, averaged over 24 hours.
In earlier years, the total number of days greater than 50 during the year and the maximum 24 hour average measured was:

2003 6 days >50 82 maximum concentration on July 26
2002 4 days >50 51 maximum concentration on July 19


ENDS

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