16 June 2016

Air quality monitoring information is now available on the Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa (LAWA) website. This enables people to read about efforts to improve air quality in the Bay of Plenty by providing access to monitoring data recorded at sites within the region.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council, which manages the region's air quality, uses this data to monitor pollution levels. The council is responsible for ensuring national environmental standards for air quality introduced in 2004 are met.

Air quality affects everyone and clean air is vital, council environmental scientist Shane Iremonger says. “While the Bay of Plenty’s air quality is generally good, if contaminant concentration gets too high it can affect people’s health. PM10 (particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometres), for example, can accumulate in the respiratory system and often cause health problems.

PM10 is emitted from the combustion of fuels, such as wood and coal (from home heating and industry) and petrol and diesel (from vehicles). Natural sources such as volcanoes, wind-blown dust and sea salt can also produce PM10. The contaminant is also formed in the air from reactions between gases or between gases and other particles.

“We hope publishing this monitoring data on LAWA will help grow awareness and understanding of air quality issues and the work we do to keep our air clean and free of pollution,” Shane says.

This work includes identifying the most significant air quality issues in the Bay of Plenty. The council released a draft Regional Air Plan in April that outlines the issues in detail and proposes solutions to address them. There have been a series of public workshops, liaison with industry and various advertising to ensure public have input into this draft plan. Feedback is still welcome, and people have until close of business tomorrow (Friday June 17th) to provide input. 

PM10 levels in Rotorua are a particular focus for the council. Air quality within the city in winter regularly exceeds the level set by the Ministry for the Environment (a maximum daily concentration of 50 micrograms per cubic metre) with these exceedances being largely caused by the use of older wood/log burners used for home heating. The regional council is working with Rotorua Lakes Council and the community to ensure the district’s air meets the national environmental standard by September 2020. For more information visit www.cleanairrotorua.co.nz

The LAWA website – www.lawa.org.nz – means people can get information about the quality and availability of New Zealand’s natural resources online. Launched in 2014, it also displays data on river and lake quality, swimming and real-time flow, rainfall and groundwater data.