Air quality up

Stats NZ and the Ministry for the Environment released a report on Friday showing air quality has improved in New Zealand. You would have thought that the so called environmental party, the Greens, would have quickly rushed out a press release welcoming this. But it seems they were too busy.

Stats NZ says:

Air quality in New Zealand continues to improve, according to a new report released today by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand, showing lower levels of airborne particles that are associated with health problems.

The 2014 Air domain report focuses on three national air quality indicators – PM10 particulates, (particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter), health impacts from PM10, and vehicle emissions.

“The report not only covers the state of the environment but also what has contributed to the state being the way it is and how the state impacts on New Zealand and New Zealanders,” Secretary for the Environment Paul Reynolds said.

The indicators are showing the state of air quality is improving, and the measurable pressures and impacts reducing.

At a national level, annual PM10 concentrations declined between 2006 and 2012. A number of locations breached PM10health guidelines, particularly in winter due to wood and coal burners.

A range of other pollutants are covered in the report, such as carbon monoxide, lead, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. These mostly met short- and long-term health guidelines, though occasional breaches of guidelines occurred at some sites close to roads or major industry.

The improvement in the state of air quality is reflected by declines in the key pressures on PM10 concentrations. The number of homes using wood and coal has declined since 1996, and on-road transport emissions have declined since 2001 even though vehicle usage has increased. The key pollutants from vehicles have each decreased between 25 and 50 percent brought about by improvements in New Zealand’s vehicle fleet and cleaner fuels.

With the state of New Zealand’s air quality improving, associated health impacts from exposure to PM10 have also declined from 2006 to 2012.

Some data from the report:

  • PM10 concentration down from 16.9 in 2008 to 15.6 in 2012.
  • Our average concentration is the 7th lowest in the OECD
  • Every city measured, except Tauranga is lower in 2012 than 2008
  • Biggest drops are Lower Hutt with 26% and Dunedin with 24%. Also Penrose 18% down.

We take lean air for granted. But you only have to travel overseas to see how fortunate we are.

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