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NIWA expands urban air quality team

NIWA Media Release 8 January 2007


NIWA expands team to meet challenge of poor urban air quality

For a country with a relatively low population density, New Zealand’s air quality can be very poor. The most significant concern is wintertime air pollution in urban centres, where emissions from domestic solid fuel heaters generate high ambient concentrations of PM10 (Particulate Matter with a diameter of ten micrometres or less). Vehicle pollution is also an important source in the larger cities. Recent research has estimated that as many as 900 people may die prematurely each year in New Zealand from the effects of air pollution and that the cost to the New Zealand taxpayer of the health effects of air pollution is greater than six hundred million dollars per year.

The National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is expanding its urban air quality team. The group carries out research into the processes controlling air pollution in urban environments and investigates methods of managing or mitigating its effects. We also provide air quality monitoring and consultancy services to government and industry throughout NZ.

Group manager, Dr Guy Coulson, says three new staff will substantially boost NIWA’s capacity to conduct scientific research and commercial consultancy work. The group will now have six scientists based in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, supported by a three-person strong technical team based in Auckland. The team is Jeff Bluett, Tom Clarkson, and Guy Coulson with newcomers Perry Davy, Ian Longley, and Gustavo Olivares, supported by Lou Reddish, Sally Gray, and Jeremy Hunt.

ENDS


Background:

The new staff are:

Perry Davy. Perry was previously with Greater Wellington Regional Council where he designed and implemented the region’s ambient air quality monitoring network. He has just completed his PhD thesis examining the composition and sources of aerosol in the Wellington region with a particular focus on determining the primary emission sources of fine particles responsible for air pollution episodes in Masterton and Upper Hutt. He will continue to be based in Wellington. Perry is on 04-386-0474, or p.davy@niwa.co.nz

Dr Ian Longley. Ian hails from the northwest of England. He has a background in mechanical engineering, teaching, and atmospheric physics, and has a PhD from the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology. Ian’s most recent work was the CityFlux project, which measured the flux and interaction of gases and fine particles simultaneously at multiple sites and at three levels (street, roof, and tower) using over 20 different instruments. In 2006, he established probably the world’s most sophisticated urban flux observatory in Manchester, which in October was relocated to the top of the 188 metre BT Tower in central London. Simultaneously he has been supervising a PhD project to help understand the exposure of citizens to ultrafine particles that is yielding some interesting results on the importance of how we commute. He will be based in Auckland.

Gustavo Olivares. Gustavo is from Santiago, and has a background in chemical engineering, with his early research focusing on emissions from Chilean copper smelters. He has recently completed a PhD at Stockholm University, Sweden, which involved measuring and modelling urban aerosols. His recent projects have dealt with the characterisation of aerosols from urban traffic and heating sources. He will be based in Auckland.

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