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Air Quality Exceedances in Hastings and Napier

Slow start to home fire in Havelock North

Hawke’s Bay is not yet in the coldest part of winter and already both Napier and Hastings have exceeded the air quality standards last weekend.  It is the first time Napier has exceeded the standards for four years.

You can find monitoring results here.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council continuously monitors air quality at St Johns in Hastings and Marewa in Napier. Both sites recorded an average level of 55 micrograms PM10 (very small particles) per cubic metre of air over the 24 hour period to midnight Sunday.  Weather conditions, especially the lack of wind over the weekend, meant that smoke levels in the air steadily increased from Saturday evening.   

Napier has not had an exceedance of the air quality standards for four years, and Hastings has reduced air pollution substantially in recent years having only one exceedance last winter (but seven in 2016).   

“This is particularly disappointing in terms of the result for Napier where we thought we were on track to reach clear air every winter,” says Mark Heaney, HBRC’s manager of the Heat Smart programme. 

Some years ago there were frequent occasions when levels of smoke held close to the ground by an inversion layer exceeded the national standards.  The PM10 in the smoke are a health issue both inside and outside homes, especially for people with respiratory problems.

“There was a combination of factors that resulted in the exceedances.  High cloud on Sunday kept the day cool, and nights were also cold so people probably kept their fires going over a long period to keep cosy, and the smoke built up because there was little to no wind,” says Dr Kathleen Kozyniak, HBRC air quality scientist.

Hawke’s Bay cities are required to reach the government’s limits by 2020, and the Regional Council’s HeatSmart scheme is still available to help people stay warm by providing financial assistance to replace insulation and out-dated wood burners. Wood burners installed before 2005 are illegal because they burn inefficiently.

National Environmental Standard – Air Quality

The National Environmental Standard (NES) for air quality sets an acceptable limit for small smoke particulate matter in the air (PM10) of 50 micrograms per cubic metre averaged over 24 hours.

Since September 2016, Napier may only exceed the limit once a year. Hastings can exceed no more than three times, before reducing to only one exceedance a year by September 2020.   

Tips for keeping warm while keeping smoke levels low -

-          Insulate your home well, reducing draughts

-          Burn dry, untreated wood only

12 June 2018

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