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Towards Clean Air For New Zealanders

26 May 2002

The release of ‘Ambient Air Quality Guidelines’ is another step towards ensuring New Zealanders have clean air to breathe, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

The Guidelines advise councils and communities how to monitor and manage air quality and reduce air pollution in our towns and cities. They also specify targets for specific pollutants that can cause serious health and environmental effects.

"Current levels of air pollution in towns and cities all over New Zealand are causing serious health effects, especially for asthmatics, children and the elderly," Marian Hobbs said.

"A recent study estimated that levels of fine particles from home fires, vehicles and industry are high enough to cause 970 premature deaths a year in New Zealand. This could be just the tip of the iceberg for other health effects.

"We must stop regarding the air as a dump for waste particles and gases from such daily activities, as driving our cars and heating homes. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not affecting us.

"We need to choose cleaner home heating appliances and more efficient vehicles with proper emissions control equipment. We need to look after our cars so they are tuned and we need to consider other cleaner transport options."

The Guidelines will be used by local government who control air discharges through regional plans under the Resource Management Act. The Ministry for the Environment is leading the development of effective policies to reduce emissions, particularly for home heating fires, while the Ministry of Transport is working on reducing vehicle emissions. Both these agencies are also involved with the Health Research Council in a 3-year programme to investigate the health effects of air pollution in New Zealand and their costs to society.

The guidelines have involved extensive research and been developed in consultation with interested parties.

Ends

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