Improved air quality in Invercargill and Gore this winter is a positive step towards improving our community’s health, but we can’t afford to become complacent.
Environment Southland’s air quality monitoring reached the end of winter on 31 August, with just four exceedances of the National Environment Standards for Air Quality recorded for Invercargill, and one for Gore.
Environment Southland air quality scientist Owen West said a number of factors have contributed to the results, which are a significant improvement on 2018, when Invercargill recorded 13 exceedances and Gore had 2.
“We know we’ve had a milder winter this year and other conditions, such as more wind, have helped reduce the amount of pollution.
“We also hope that the changes those within the community are making are also having a real impact – burning dry wood, upgrading to cleaner heating sources and being more aware of how they operate their burners.
“Regardless of the reasons, the reduced exceedances and improved air quality are all positives for our community’s health and something we want to see continue.”
While home heating is the biggest contributor to poor air quality in Southland, it’s also an area where people can make the biggest difference.
The Regional Air Plan includes rules to help improve air quality. Open fires are now prohibited in the Invercargill and Gore airsheds, and non-compliant burners are being progressively phased out from 2019. Help is available for people within the Invercargill and Gore airsheds through the Clean Air Loans scheme to help them move to cleaner forms of heating.
Environment Southland operates a Good Wood approved suppliers scheme which firewood retailers voluntarily agree to be part of.
For further information on the Clean Air Loans scheme, Good Wood suppliers and what else you can do to improve air quality, go to www.BreatheEasySouthland.co.nz.