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Council helps people upgrade to clean heating

Thursday, 10 December 2015 10:00 a.m.

Rotorua residents with indoor open fires have until January 31 to upgrade them to cleaner heating through Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Hot Swap Scheme.

The scheme, which helps people swap their old fires, shows the council’s commitment to improving Rotorua’s air quality. Rotorua has the worst air quality in the North Island. Despite a ban on lighting indoor open fires coming into effect last May, the air quality in the area still exceeds safe and acceptable national standards.

The biggest source of air pollution is from home heating fires, and Bay of Plenty regional councillor Lyall Thurston says it’s a community problem.

“We all need to take action to help clean it up. We won’t see the positive effects immediately but you can make a difference by choosing cleaner heating, using alternative heating options such as heat pumps and pellet fires, and only burning dry wood.

“Being warm is just as important as breathing clean air. We do not want to sacrifice one for the other. Old wood burners should be replaced because they produce more smoke than the clean air approved ones.

Cr Thurston chairs the Lakes District Health Board (DHB) Community and Public Health Advisory Committee and is deputy chair of the Lakes DHB. He therefore sees first-hand how many people, particularly the elderly and children, suffer from respiratory-related illnesses such as asthma, and how that links to air quality. Community members are also concerned, such as local teacher Rachel Hatcher. Her two eldest children suffer from asthma and, given there is no family history of it, she believes the condition is related to poor air quality.

“It’s worrying to see how bad the air pollution is. I was shocked at how black the filters are after monitoring the air in my neighbourhood, knowing me and my family breathe that in.

Rachel has an upgraded clean air approved wood burner in her home. She thinks the regional council’s Hot Swap scheme is a great initiative.

If you use a wood burner, only burn dry, seasoned wood as it emits less smoke than wet wood. Get your wood now to ensure it has time to dry, and stack it loosely to let air flow through the pile. Wood should also be stacked off the ground.

For more information visit www.hotswap.co.nz.

If you are concerned about activities causing air pollution please call the regional council’s Pollution Hotline on 0800 884 883.

Air monitoring