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Our Region's Air Quality Has Improved - But More Needs To Be Done

Hawke’s Bay’s air quality has improved over time, thanks to the community using more sustainable heating options - yet more work is needed.

Land and, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) has released its air pollution stocktake of the country’s air quality, including Hawke’s Bay.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Team Lead of Air & Land Science Dr Kathleen Kozyniak says she has observed a positive trend in air quality in Napier and Hastings over time, and this is reflected in LAWA’s report.

“In particular, we have seen a reduction in what is known as particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), which in our urban areas is mainly produced by wood and coal burning for home heating.

The reduction is thanks to the community taking up cleaner home heating options. While it’s encouraging to see overall air quality improving, it has plateaued over the last few years. We do encourage people to take up clean heating options such as using heat pumps and good dry wood for those using log burners,” says Dr Kozyniak.

The report noted air quality exceedances of the daily PM10 standard at the Regional Council’s Awatoto air monitoring site, likely due to wind-blown dust and a large contribution of sea salt. It also shows exceedances of the World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline for PM2.5 at the Hastings air monitoring site.

Over the last 15 to 20 years, the air pollutant of most concern in many parts of New Zealand has been particulate matter (PM) from burning wood and coal .

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However, the WHO guidelines updated in late 2021 and the Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand report released in 2022 show that health impacts from motor vehicle emissions (nitrogen dioxide) are more significant than previously thought, says Dr Kozyniak.

Transport initiatives such as increasing active travel, cleaner vehicle stands and zero emission vehicles will reduce pollutant levels.

To read LAWA's report, go to lawa.org.nz

Hawke's Bay Regional Council Air Quality Scientist Jeremy Kidd checks an air quality monitoring station. Photo/Supplied

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