PM10 levels slightly up in first week of winter air quality monitoring

Southlanders are being urged to play their part in improving the region’s air quality as winter brings cooler temperatures.

As the winter months begin, the use of fires for home heating will increase, resulting in smoke and an increase in PM10 (particulate matter) concentrations.

Environment Southland’s winter air quality period officially started on May 1 and live PM10 readings for Invercargill and Gore will be taken every day.

Environment Southland air quality scientist Owen West said readings from the first week had been slightly elevated for both Invercargill and Gore.

“Keeping the fire burning hot and bright. Burning only dry wood, not banking your fire overnight and ensuring the chimney is swept and the burner maintained will all help reduce the volume of smoke and is a big step to cleaner air this winter,” he said.

“Last winter, Southland made fantastic progress, with Invercargill and Gore having their best air quality results on record over the winter period.”

Outdoor burning is prohibited within the Invercargill and Gore airsheds from May 1 to August 31.

Those outside the airsheds can continue to burn but must adhere to rules such as not burning a number of prohibited items, including baleage wrap and treated timber.

“The regional air plan includes rules to help improve air quality. Non-compliant burners are being progressively phased out. As of January 2022 any burner in Invercargill and Gore that was installed before January 1, 2001, must now be replaced by a compliant burner,” Mr West said.

Environment Southland operates a Good Wood-approved supplier scheme, which firewood sellers voluntarily agree to be part of.

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