Bright clouds in the sky

There is a direct link between air pollution and health effects. The presence of contaminants in the air can have negative health and nuisance effects on people, property and the environment. Here in Tasman, the main air quality issue is pollution in winter due to wood burning.

Wood burners used for home heating and outdoor fires associated with the burning of garden waste and land management practices contribute to this air pollution. The calm, clear and cold winter days don’t allow smoke to rise and disperse. Instead, the smoke sits low to the ground.

Outdoor burning taking place in a rural area

People with pre-existing respiratory and heart conditions, diabetes, the young, and older people are particularly vulnerable to air pollution. These tiny airborne particles of pollution, known as particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) can cause a range of health effects. In the short term, particulate matter mainly affects people’s lungs and heart, ranging from reduced lung function, impaired activities (e.g. sick days off school or work), more doctor and hospital visits. Long term effects are reduced life expectancy.

The Council has tools in place via our current resource management plans to manage discharges to air, including specific rules for the Richmond Airshed. The Richmond Airshed has more rules than the wider district because it does not meet the Air Quality National Environmental Standards for particulates. To better understand if there are air quality issues in our other towns and local centres, we have recently initiated an ongoing monitoring programme with an initial focus on Motueka.

Looking ahead, we will work with our communities to design solutions for improving our air quality, while enabling people to afford to live in warm, dry and healthy homes.

We will also be looking at outdoor burning practices, while enabling our land-based industries to undertake essential land management for example orchards, horticulture and forestry. This will involve looking at alternatives to burning vegetation waste, or better practices that can be used to ensure that burning takes place outside of autumn and winter when air pollution is at its worst.

In this episode of the Tasman Environment Plan podcast, TDC Policy Planner Diana Worthy talks air quality in the Tasman District.

Further resources

Find out more about this topic at the links below: