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Air Pollution

Discharging contaminants into the air affects air quality in the Bay of Plenty. Contaminants are discharged into air both from natural sources and as a result of human activity.

Natural sources of contaminants into air include volcanoes, other areas of geothermal activity, pollen, wind-blown dust, sea spray and organic breakdown.

Check out full details below on causes of air pollution from human activity:

Contact the pollution hotline if you have any problems with air pollution - 0800 884 883

Open Burnings

Practices to prevent excessive smoke

  • Burn only dry, seasoned material. Increased moisture content affects the heat of combustion and increases the likelihood of smoke. Allow two days fine weather before burning. 
  • Don't light fires in wind speeds greater than 10 knots - Beaufort scale 3 (leaves and the smallest twigs move in the wind). The ash produced on the fire is more likely to be blown about and the discharges will travel further in high wind conditions. 
  • Where possible, stack material to be burned to allow plenty of airflow into the base of the fire to aid efficient burning.
  • Don't light fires when there is likelihood of an inversion layer, for instance when the air is cool and still such as in the evening or early in the morning. Dispersion of smoke is restricted when inversion conditions exist. The smoke will tend to hang about and not rise. 
  • Any fire should be at least 50m from any road other than a highway and 100m from any highway or dwelling house on an adjoining property or National Park boundary.

Always check with your local district council to ensure fire bans or fire restrictions are not in place. For more information you can also request a copy of the Smoke Sense brochure from Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Vehicle Emissions

What's so bad about exhaust fumes?

There are many different causes of air pollution in New Zealand with the majority being vehicle emissions and industrial emissions. The major contributor, by far, of air pollution problems comes from the transport sector - motor vehicles. In New Zealand road traffic causes 46 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Each litre of petrol used produces 2.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide, along with carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, particulates and lead.

Of the four main air pollutants emitted globally, motor vehicles produce:

  • 90% of all carbon monoxide in the atmosphere
  • 45% of all hydrocarbons
  • 50% of all nitrogen oxides
  • 35% of carbon dioxide.

What's so bad about those particulates?

The particulates are so small they can penetrate deep into the lungs causing increased hospital stays, impaired lung function, increased absence from work and increased death from heart disease and lung cancer. Children, the elderly, smokers, asthmatics and others suffering from respiratory disorders are especially vulnerable to this type of air pollution.

Activity - Vehicles and Small Internal Combustion Sources

The discharge of contaminants into air from normal combustion associated with vehicles and small internal combustion sources including but not limited to chainsaws, lawnmowers and boats is a permitted activity provided the following condition is complied with:

a. The discharge must not result in excessive smoke for periods of 10 seconds or more.

Advising the vehicle owner of the problems and providing information to assist the owner on how to reduce emissions is all Bay of Plenty Regional Council will be doing at the moment. However, if the problems persist Bay of Plenty Regional Council will review its position and could introduce infringement notices.

Reducing Emissions

Diesel vehicle maintenance tips

Excessive exhaust smoke can indicate engine problems. Here are some useful tips to keep your vehicle well maintained:

1. Clean or change your air filter at regularly specified intervals. Diesel powered vehicles require more air intake than petrol vehicles. A clogged air intake, such as a dirty air filter, will increase smoke.

2. Change the engine oil at least as often as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Dirty engine oil becomes very thick and will cause excessive engine and turbocharger wear leading to increased smoke emissions.

3. Maintain the engine's fuel injection system, as recommended by the manufacturer. This includes:

  • following recommended fuel filter change intervals
  • regularly draining the water/fuel separator
  • having injectors checked and cleaned to prevent plugging and replacing them when worn
  • having the fuel injection pump maintained as needed.

An exhaust emission test is an easy way of checking whether your car is meeting recommended exhaust emission standards. A qualified mechanic can advise you how emissions from your vehicle can be reduced.

Petrol vehicle maintenance tips

Excessive exhaust smoke can indicate engine problems. Here are some useful tips to keep your vehicle well maintained:

1. Change the engine oil at least as often as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Dirty engine oil becomes very thick and will cause excessive engine and turbocharger wear leading to increased smoke emissions.

2. Maintain the engine's fuel system, as recommended by the manufacturer. This includes:

  • following recommended fuel filter change intervals
  • regularly draining the water/fuel separator
  • having injectors or carburettor checked and cleaned to prevent plugging and replacing them when worn
  • having the fuel injection pump maintained as needed.
  • Maintain the engine (including pistons and rings) to prevent the engine burning oil.

An exhaust emission test is an easy way of checking whether your car is meeting recommended exhaust emission standards. A qualified mechanic can advise you how emissions from your vehicle can be reduced.

Driving Tips

You can reduce excessive smoking from your vehicle by following these driving tips:

1. Avoid prolonged wide-open-throttle accelerations from stops. Use moderate accelerations.

2. Avoid slowing the engine down in top gear by moving into a lower gear. Doing so will prevent your engine from labouring at low rpms.

3. Back off the accelerator under load conditions such as when climbing hills or towing a heavy load. The fuel delivered at near maximum throttle positions, under load conditions is simply making smoke, not power.