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Central Otago people urged to improve air quality

Central Otago people urged to improve air quality

With the air pollution levels from domestic fires in Central Otago already exceeding standards set for healthy living, locals are being urged to improve how they operate these fires.

ORC director of engineering, hazards, and science Dr Palmer said there were a couple of simple things people could do to reduce the incidence of high air pollution and in the process get the best heat from their woodburner: burn bone-dry wood, and leave the woodburner airflow open.

“Fires that are damped down produce large amounts of smoke and little heat. People would get better value from their fuel and clearer air if they avoided this practice,” Dr Palmer said.

Burning wood with greater than a 25 percent moisture content produces poor heat output, as well as the worst pollution. The best heat output and the cleanest burning come from wood with a moisture content of less than 15 percent.

Dr Palmer said ORC’s Alexandra office has a meter which residents can use free of charge to measure the moisture content of their wood.

Under the Resource Management Act, ORC is responsible for monitoring the discharge of contaminants to air and ensuring that the Government’s National Environmental Standard for air quality is met.

The standard sets a maximum allowable daily pollution concentration of 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air and limits the number of times this can be exceeded to three a year.

In Alexandra there were four consecutive exceedances from 30 April – 3 May. inclusive. The highest one during this period was last Friday (2 May) at 83 micrograms per cubic metre of air. Late on the same day hourly values hit 250 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

In Cromwell there were five consecutive exceedances from 30 April – 4 May. The highest one was last Thursday (1 May) at 67 micrograms per cubic metre of air. Highest hourly values in that period for Cromwell were about 175 micrograms per cubic metre of air on three nights.


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