A ban on the use of new domestic open fireplaces installed after May next year and new rules for industrial discharges to air are now in force in Hamilton city.
The restrictions are the result of national environmental standards from the Ministry for the Environment designed to protect people from the effects of PM10 particles put into the atmosphere from burning and other activities. PM10 particles mainly come from wood burnt for home heating in older, inefficient burners and open fire places. They can cause health issues when breathed in.
Waikato Regional Council monitoring at its Peachgrove Rd site has shown the PM10 standards were exceeded in Hamilton on 12, 13 and 15 May.
“We believe the main reason for the exceedances is more home fires being used as the weather has cooled,” said scientist Dr Jonathan Caldwell.
“Under the Ministry for the Environment standards, more than one exceedance in a 12 month period has automatically triggered restrictions on fireplace use and industrial discharges in Hamilton.
“Any solid-fuel burning, open fireplace installed within a home on or after 14 May 2014 will not be able to be used for burning solid fuels such as coal and wood.”
People will still be able to use enclosed fire places, such as woodburners, installed prior to and after 14 May 2014. They could also keep using existing open fireplaces, Dr Caldwell said.
However, he said the use of open fire places is a very inefficient method of home heating. Burning dry wood, using a Ministry for the Environment authorised woodburner, and not dampening down fires will help reduce smoke.
Dr Caldwell also said that, under the new restrictions, if an industry wants to introduce a new and large discharge of PM10 to air, or an existing industry wants to increase its discharge of PM10, it will only get a resource consent for this if it can get someone else to reduce their discharges by an equivalent amount. “This may involve such things as paying homeowners to convert to ‘clean’ home heating systems or assisting another industrial user, hospital or school to reduce their emissions,” said Dr Caldwell.
These industrial restrictions can be lifted if Hamilton has five consecutive years of no more than one exceedance per year of the standards. However, under the current standards, the ban on using solid-fuel open fire places installed on or after 14 May 2014 would stay in place indefinitely.
Dr Caldwell said the ministry’s national rules were designed to protect people from PM10 particles which are small enough to get into people’s lungs and cause serious health problems.
“Most of Hamilton’s wintertime PM10 comes from smoke from wood burning fires in homes.”
Besides Peachgrove Rd, there is also a PM10 monitoring site at the corner of Ohaupo Rd and Lorne St.
More information on PM10 in the Waikato region and the issues involved can be found at www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/air.