Air quality breaches in city


INVERCARGILL and Gore have already breached national air quality standards despite being only nine weeks into the winter monitoring period.
The Government has set targets of a maximum of three exceedances for Invercargill this winter and one for Gore, but Invercargill has recorded nine exceedances, with three in Gore.
There had also been one exceedance in Winton, Environment Southland (ES) air quality scientist Owen West said — the first there since 2008.
The results were disappointing, especially with so much of the winter period ahead, however the recent calm weather was a likely contributing factor, he said.
‘‘Winter temperatures overall have been warmer, but we have had some very still, cold days when people have been cranking up their fires. On those days, the smoke layer in the air is quite obvious when you are outside.’’
Mr West said ES staff had spent much time trying to educate people about how to use burners more efficiently, or not burn at all.
‘‘Burning dry wood is the best way to get the most heat from your burner while also reducing the smoke coming from the chimney. Or people could use [electric] heat pumps if they have them, rather than a burner.’’
Poor air quality had ‘‘obviously health implications’’ and people needed to be aware of the impact of their burners on their neighbours, he said.
‘‘If people take the time to go outside and check how much smoke is coming out of their chimney, it might help them learn how they can optimise their fire to burn more efficiently. Lots of smoke is a sign of an inefficient fire and wasted money.’’
ES’ proposed Regional Air Plan released last year contained tougher home fire rules in Invercargill and Gore. Open fires will be prohibited after January 1 next year, and noncompliant burners will be phased out between 2019 and 2034.
Mr West said although Winton was not affected by the changes, the Southland District Council was processing building consents for compliant wood burners free until December 31 next year, to encourage residents to change to cleaner forms of heating.
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