Timaru will face battle to reach new air quality standards

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Timaru will face battle to reach new air quality standards

Postby Wilberforce » Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:21 pm

Smoke hangs over Oceanview after a fire was lit at a property in June.

Timaru will face battle to reach new air quality standards in force this year


Last updated 17:30, August 30 2016

Timaru faces an uphill battle to reach new air quality standards.

The new standards, which will be enforced from later this year, allow Timaru to have three high-pollution nights each year to meet new environmental standards.

Despite the city breaching the standards 26 times this year, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) programme leader for air quality Dr Ian Longley believed the targets were "achievable".

Longley said the target could take some time to achieve, possibly two or three winter seasons, but it could be done.

He established the New Zealand-led International Wood Smoke Researchers' Network earlier this year, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

It was a network with a future view of "pooling" information and knowledge, and collaborating on research projects with others from around the world.

Cleaning up Timaru's act was "tricky", he said.

Christchurch and Nelson were good examples where high pollution nights had fallen in the past decade, which suggested long-term effort to reduce air pollution levels could benefit Timaru, he said.

The primary cause, according to studies, was home heating, and high pollution nights occurring in winter was a "dead giveaway".

Using and storing dry fire wood "significantly" reduced smoke, as well as using lots of kindling and regular chimney sweeps, he said.

Those with low emission burners also needed to ensure they were burning with the correct technique, and not burning rubbish. It was only "low emission only, in the sense if it's used properly".

Longley believed increased education on how to use a wood burner, and burn wood better, would benefit Timaru residents.

"Environment Canterbury are doing a very good job of making an effort ... They are doing a range of things."

ECan commissioner responsible for air quality David Bedford said he was confident of ECan's plan to bring Timaru up to speed with the new standards, but it "still had a long way to go".

He agreed with Longley's statement that it would take time to achieve the new targets.

"It's a positive story, things are going well. I think that people in Timaru have engaged really well, and I think we are on track," Bedford said.

Timaru had only started to deal with its air issues in the past three or four years, in comparison to Christchurch, which had been dealing with air issues for the past 10 to 15 years, he said.

Open fires were banned in Christchurch many years ago, and they were only banned in Timaru this year, he said.

Bedford said it was a good start for the city.

Many residents became aware of what they were burning and how they were burning because of promotion and education by ECan, which was very successful. It would continue that programme, he said.

The council would "have to do something about changing out open fires", but that would be done taking into the account the "social and economic reality" of residents.

ECan could look at using targeted rates to help those on low incomes to replace their burners with low-emission burners or heat pumps.

That would be decided as part of its 2017/18 annual plan. So far it had provided more than 100 residents with financial help, with funds still available, he said.

Bedford said it would also have use of "regulatory tools", but he would not comment on what they could be while they were being discussed.

Longley said through the network it had been talking to people from states such as Washington and Montana, in the United States, which had similar problems.

In some parts of the US, residents would be informed they were not allowed to use their wood burner if it was likely to be a high pollution night: "It's not popular".

However he said there were a range of options to tackle Timaru's polluted skies with many more being looked at, he said.

The proposed air plan

So far this winter, Timaru's Anzac Square has had 26 breaches recorded above 50 micrograms of suspended particulate per cubic metre, based on a 24 hour average PM10 concentration.

PM10 refers to particulate matter in the air that is smaller than 10 micrometres in diameter. A reading more than 50 micrograms indicates "high" pollution under the national environmental standard.

The new air standards cover home heating, industry, dust, odour, and outdoor burning, building on current measures under the existing air plan.

Home heating was the primary focus as it was the main contributor to Canterbury's winter air pollution in the worst affected towns and cities.

New national environmental standards, which come into force at the start of September, say Timaru, Waimate, Christchurch, Ashburton and Kaiapoi can have only three high-pollution nights each year.

As of September 1 2020, all airsheds are only allowed to exceed the limit once per year.

It prohibits visible smoke, except for 15 minutes at start up and five minutes for refuelling.

This year's Environment Canterbury campaign saw ECan officers leaving kindling with instructions when following up complaints about smoke, as many residents did not know how to light successfully and reduce smoke time.

The regional council is expected to release its decision on the Air Plan late September at which time it is open to appeals by submitters.

Depending on whether any appeals are made, and how long they take to resolve, the plan is likely to be finalised in December.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/ne ... -this-year

World pollutionwatch

The Guardian29 Aug 2016
Gary Fuller

Gary Fuller is a mem­ber of the New Zealand-led In­ter­na­tional Wood Smoke Re­searchers’ Net­work.

Most im­ages of New Zealand show a pris­tine en­vi­ron­ment of great beauty. So it comes as a sur­prise to learn that air­borne par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion in many towns is above World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion guide­lines. This is not due to diesel cars or the den­sity of cities and in­dus­try. It is due mainly to home heat­ing.

Faced with lim­ited avail­abil­ity of nat­u­ral gas and ex­pen­sive elec­tric­ity, many New Zealan­ders, es­pe­cially those in the South Is­land, rely on wood burn­ing. Na­tional stan­dards for par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion al­low for one pol­luted day per year, but Christchurch had eight in 2015 and Ti­maru breached stan­dards on 26 days.

New Zealand’s poorly in­su­lated homes and fuel poverty con­trib­ute to high win­ter deaths and chil­dren’s asthma. And not heat­ing homes sim­ply isn’t an op­tion. Bet­ter wood stoves or heat pumps are al­ter­na­tives, along with in­su­la­tion. But up­grad­ing homes takes time, and even with mod­ern stoves, the smoke pro­duced de­pends on the user.

Teach­ing peo­ple to burn wood bet­ter could cut pol­lu­tion right away. The Warmer Cheaper pro­gramme takes users step by step through light­ing a fire and keep­ing it go­ing with the least pol­lu­tion.

One of the main causes of smoke is in­suf­fi­cient kin­dling, so schools and com­mu­nity groups are be­ing har­nessed to sell kin­dling, along with an award­win­ning gad­get, the Kin­dling Cracker, in­vented by teenager Ayla Hutchin­son, which can help peo­ple chop kin­dling eas­ily and safely.

https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-guar ... 6600151320
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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