Working to improve air quality in our region

Community and Public Health provides a supporting role to Environment Canterbury for monitoring and policy responses to ambient air quality issues and improvements.

Environment Canterbury is responsible for monitoring of Canterbury air quality.

Ministry for the Environment develops national indicators and strategies on air quality.

Air pollution and air quality in New Zealand

New Zealand research suggests that ambient air pollution is responsible for an estimated 970 premature deaths each year in people over 30 years of age, approximately 400 of which are from vehicle emissions. Fine particles are produced in the combustion of fuel pose greater health risks than previously thought – these are known as PM10 and PM2.5. Harmful gases also affect air quality such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, benzene and nitrogen dioxide.

There are several different sources of air pollution:

  • Burning wood, coal, gas, diesel or other materials for home heating such as domestic fires are the main contributor to ambient air pollution in many parts of New Zealand.
  • Cars, buses, off-road vehicles, trucks, planes and diesel trains produce exhaust containing fine particles and other air pollutants. Traffic can also create dust.
  • Many industrial processes release air pollutants as well as burning wood, coal, gas, diesel or other materials for heating commercial or public buildings like schools and hospitals.
  • Natural sources include wind-blown dust, pollen, sea salt, volcanic ash and bio-aerosols.

Sources of air pollution: natural sources, outdoor burning, home heating, indoor sources, traffic and industrial. Source: LAWA website.

Children, elderly people and those with respiratory diseases are more vulnerable to air pollution and areas of high deprivation have greater excess mortality from air pollution. The infographic below shows the health impacts of the common air pollutants.
Find out more about the health effects of some common air pollutants (Ministry for the Environment).

Examples of the health effects of air pollution. Source: Ministry for the Environment.



Contact your local CPH office for further information:

Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6125

Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091

Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169

For additional information, contact:

ECAN Winter Air Pollution Forecast
Ph: +64 3 353 9004

Canterbury Regional Air Plan

Community and Public Health has a joint work plan with Environment Canterbury around common areas of interest, including air quality.

One example of this collaboration was the review of the Regional Air Plan. A joint Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the Air Plan was done to assess the potential impact of proposed plan changes on population health.

The HIA revealed that air quality is closely linked with housing, heating, and energy use, and these factors need to be considered when dealing with unintended health consequences. The HIA recommendations included the carefully phased introduction of home heating changes along with supporting measures, such as targeted heating and insulation subsidies.

LAWA: Land Air Water Aotearoa.

Page last updated: 16/07/2019

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