Air pollution issues remain

Parts of Otago still face big air pollution challenges, but a recent study shows big positive changes through reduced emissions.

Air pollution in Otago has fallen significantly, according to an emissions survey commissioned by the Otago Regional Council.

Results from the study, undertaken last year, were presented to the council’s technical committee this week.

The survey and report focused on Alexandra, Arrowtown, Milton and Mosgiel and showed that emissions had reduced by 50% since 2005.

The report also notes continuing air-quality challenges, including in Alexandra, which had "some of the worst winter air quality in the country".

The report noted that in Otago, the main pollutant comprised particles suspended in the air, and with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres.

These particles were produced by the combustion of wood and fossil fuels, as well as by various industrial and natural processes, and could "easily be breathed in".

The reduction was believed to be largely due to decreased coal use and replacement of older, inefficient wood burners with newer burners that met national and regional standards. Committee chairwoman Cr Maggie Lawton said work was under way to develop the next air strategy for Otago and the emissions survey was "an important step" in "understanding our current position, improvements made" and areas needing more focus.

To help homeowners switch to more efficient burners, the council offers a Clean Heat Clean Air programme in Milton, Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell and Arrowtown.

The programme provides financial help with the installation of clean heating appliances. In the eight and a-half years since the programme began, 4402 grants totalling $6.2million have been made for clean heating and insulation in these areas.

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