Air quality project will use sensors to map city’s smoke patterns

Environment heads have joined forces in an effort to monitor air quality in Invercargill.

A joint programme between Environment Southland and Niwa will provide detailed data about smoke patterns to help identify hot spots for poorer air quality across the city.

Niwa principal air quality scientist Dr Ian Longley said the same project was carried out in Arrowtown last year, and was a "powerful’’ way to show residents exactly what was happening with their air quality.

"People were able to directly link the weather conditions with their use of home heating and the resulting air quality.

"In Invercargill, this work will show us how the weather patterns and the geography affect where smoke from wood burners tends to come from and travel to."

Twenty-five sensors had been fitted to light poles in an attempt to tackle Invercargill’s history of poor air quality, particularly during winter due to home heating and calm conditions allowing smoke to hang around.

Since the start of May, there have been five exceedances of the 24-hour National Environmental Standards for Air Quality.

The Outdoor Dust Information Nodes [Odins] were compact devices used to measure particulate matter every few minutes.

The data would be fed back to Niwa, which could provide near real-time 24-hour animations on its website each morning.

Environment Southland air quality scientist Owen West said the project would help identify areas in need of further monitoring or more "targeted" work.

"This type of data is really important in helping us support communities to make the necessary changes to improve our air quality.

"We know that poor air quality has significant health impacts and we all have a part to play in improving it.’’

As part of the project, Invercargill residents would eventually be given the opportunity to host indoor air quality monitors to help build a better understanding of how indoor air varied between homes.


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