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New Zealand air quality continues to improve

New Zealand air quality continues to improve

16 May 2014

Air quality in New Zealand continues to improve, according to a new report released today by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand, showing lower levels of airborne particles that are associated with health problems.

The 2014 Air domain report focuses on three national air quality indicators – PM10 particulates, (particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter), health impacts from PM10, and vehicle emissions.

“The report not only covers the state of the environment but also what has contributed to the state being the way it is and how the state impacts on New Zealand and New Zealanders,” Secretary for the Environment Paul Reynolds said.

The indicators are showing the state of air quality is improving, and the measurable pressures and impacts reducing.

At a national level, annual PM10 concentrations declined between 2006 and 2012. A number of locations breached PM10 health guidelines, particularly in winter due to wood and coal burners.

A range of other pollutants are covered in the report, such as carbon monoxide, lead, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. These mostly met short- and long-term health guidelines, though occasional breaches of guidelines occurred at some sites close to roads or major industry.

The improvement in the state of air quality is reflected by declines in the key pressures on PM10 concentrations. The number of homes using wood and coal has declined since 1996, and on-road transport emissions have declined since 2001 even though vehicle usage has increased. The key pollutants from vehicles have each decreased between 25 and 50 percent brought about by improvements in New Zealand’s vehicle fleet and cleaner fuels.

With the state of New Zealand’s air quality improving, associated health impacts from exposure to PM10 have also declined from 2006 to 2012.

“As a joint Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand report, the report draws on the technical strengths of each organisation and is independent and statistically robust. We hope that this report and future reports under the environmental reporting regime will help New Zealanders to have the best environmental information available,” Government Statistician Liz MacPherson said.

Access New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting Series: 2014 Air Domain Report on the Ministry for the Environment website.

For more information about these statistics:
• Visit New Zealand's Environmental Reporting Series: 2014 Air domain report

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