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New Zealand deserves clean air

3 September 2009
New Zealand deserves clean air

The Government’s air quality standards have come under fire from the Green Party for not monitoring fine particle pollutants.

“The National Government needs to get serious about keeping New Zealand’s air clean and introduce regulations around fine particle pollutants. These pollutants pose serious health risks to all New Zealanders,” said Dr Russel Norman Green Party Co-Leader.

In answer to a written question from the Green Party Environment Minister Nick Smith has admitted that New Zealand does not have any standards for monitoring air pollutant particulates that are 2.5 microns or smaller.

Fine particle pollution is particularly dangerous for people who are exposed to vehicle pollution in and around tunnels.

“Land Transport New Zealand is claiming our air quality in and around tunnels is fine but the research they have conducted is flawed because it has not taken into consideration fine particle pollutants that pose serious health risks,” said Dr Norman.
Scientific studies have found an association between fine particle pollution and significant health problems, including: aggravated asthma; chronic bronchitis; reduced lung function; irregular heartbeat; heart attack; and premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

It is international best practice to monitor fine particle pollutants. Both the United States and the World Health Organisation have introduced monitoring and health standards for fine particle pollutants. But New Zealand which prides itself on being clean and green has no regulations, standards or guidelines, said Dr Norman.

In Wellington, residents who live near Mount Victoria tunnel are outraged. Jessica Closson from the local residents association said she was “shocked to hear that LTNZ didn't measure particulates less than 2.5 in size. It's pretty meaningless to simply measure above that level - that covers things like road dust, tyre wear and brake linings only!”

For further information

Fact Sheet: Final Clean Air Fine Particle Implementation Rule For Implementation of 1997 PM2.5 Standards - www.epa.gov/air/particlepollution/fs20070329.html

World Health Organisation - Air quality guidelines - global update 2005- www.who.int/phe/health_topics/outdoorair_aqg/en/

Good Practice Guide for Assessing Discharges to Air from Industry, Ministry for the Environment - www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/air/assessing-discharges-air-industry-jun08/html/index.html

ENDS

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