Air-quality breaches

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Gore has breached national standards for air quality by exceeding daily limits three times this year even though it has been a mild winter so far.
The target for Gore is one breach by September 1, 2016.
The Government’s National Standards for Air Quality sets an average daily limit of 50 micrograms/m3 for PM10 (particulate matter) but allows the standard to be exceeded once a year.
On June 30, 55 micrograms/m3 was recorded in Gore. The previous breaches occurred on May 27 and June 24.
Last year, Gore recorded two breaches.
Environment Southland air quality scientist Owen West said the results were disappointing, especially with so much of the winter still ahead. Still and calm weather was likely to be a factor.
‘‘Winter temperatures overall have been warmer but we have had some very still, cold days when people have been cranking up their fires. On those days, the smoke layer in the air is quite obvious when you are outside,’’ Mr West said.
Warm, healthy homes and good air quality should go hand in hand, with efficient burning of dry wood the best way to get the most heat from burners and reduce the smoke coming from the chimney, he said.
‘‘If people take the time to go outside and check how much smoke is coming out of their chimney, it might help them learn how they can optimise their fire to burn more efficiently — lots of smoke is a sign of an inefficient fire and wasted money,’’ he said.
Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said the breaches were connected to chilly starts to the day and cooler evenings.
Yesterday was a prime example of a chilly winter’s morning with frost and fog.
Mr Hicks said he understood people wanting to keep warm in conditions like that.
‘‘People do what they have to do to keep warm,’’ Mr Hicks said.
He said there was a need to improve heating systems but that would not happen overnight.
In the past 10 years the breaches had trended downward, he said.
Gore’s air-quality problem would sort itself out, he said.
‘‘You only have to look at the number of different types of heating appliances being installed.’’ – Environment Southland monitors air quality and reports on the results during winter. The built-up urban areas of Invercargill and Gore are ‘‘gazetted airsheds’’ because they regularly exceed the national standards during winter.
A proposed Regional Air Plan released last year includes rules to improve air quality.
Open fires will be prohibited in the Invercargill and Gore airsheds after January 1, 2017 and non-compliant burners will be phased out between 2019 and 2034.