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Healthier Winter Air for Hastings & Napier

Media Release

17 September 2015

Healthier Winter Air for Hastings & Napier

Hastings and Napier residents enjoyed healthier winter air this year, as despite a cold and snowy July, winter air pollution only exceeded the government’s National Environment Standards once.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council staff reported the winter air quality results to the Regional Planning Committee yesterday.

The single exceedance this winter was in Hastings on 8 June, with no exceedances in Napier or Awatoto

“There were a number of drivers for this winter’s improvement in air quality, such as windier weather plus all the replacement heating people have installed, but we still have to meet the target for five consecutive years so relying on weather is not a good idea,” HBRC’s Client Services Manager Mark Heaney, told the committee.

Hastings and Napier will only be designated as ‘clean air cities’ once they have met the National Environment Standard 5 years in a row and maintain it thereafter. However PM 10 levels from household smoke got close to the limit a few times this winter. Hastings had 8 days when the smoke levels were over 40 microns of PM10 per cubic metre, and in Napier 11 days when the levels were between 30 - 40 microns/cubic metre.

HBRC air quality scientist Dr Kathleen Kozyniak says that, on average, it was warmer in June, colder in July and about normal in August but in general the winter was windier. Although there had been characteristic days when pollution could have occurred in the cities, fast moving weather systems meant periods of settled weather weren’t prolonged.

“We can’t rely on favourable weather conditions each winter to meet the standards, and generally if we can get one exceedance, there is always potential for another. If a High pressure system had stuck around Hawke’s Bay for a few days in winter it could have been a different story, as that’s when strong inversion layers form, trapping smoke down low close to homes.”

The Government set a National Environmental Standard (NES) for PM10 (fine particulates) in 2005 at an average concentration of no more than 50 microns per cubic metre of air measured outdoors over a 24 hour period. Only one exceedance of this level is allowed in an airshed in a twelve month period. Hastings has until 2020 to achieve this target, while Napier must achieve it from September next year.

Studies conducted by HBRC indicate that 92-95% of PM10 emissions in Hastings and Napier came from domestic fires. PM10 is the super fine dust in the smoke which can contribute to respiratory diseases and has been associated with cardiovascular problems and even cancer. As there is no known ‘safe’ threshold for PM10, the NES is designed to provide a level of protection.

Since 2009 HBRC has had a funding package in place to assist and incentivise home owners and landlords to install insulation and clean forms of heating, with either heatpump/aircon, gas or electric appliances or compliant woodburners. 7494 fires have been replaced and the 2020 target is for 10,000 replacements. Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has approved funding for this package for the next 5 years.

The next target for wood burner upgrades is January 2016 when fires installed before 2005 will need to be upgraded.

“Although winter is just over, people who need to upgrade their home heating should be talking to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council early about a Clean Heat loan or grant rather than leaving it to the last minute. A new burner, heat pump, gas or electric heating unit is an expense but if you and your family are healthier as a result it will be worth it,” says Mr Heaney.

© Scoop Media

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