Tokoroa residents will get a leaflet in their letterboxes this week (from Monday, Sept 9) giving them tips on reducing air pollution in the town.
Tokoroa has problems with air quality in winter, especially during mornings and evenings, when smoke from home heating adds fine particulates to the air. Environment Waikato has been investigating the various sources of particulates in the town, and has found that home fires were more likely to be adding to high pollution levels than vehicles and industry on days when problems occur.
Water, air and waste programme manager Chris McLay said monitoring showed that last year, levels exceeded national guidelines and were high enough to cause health problems from some people, especially those with asthma and respiratory illnesses, on about six percent of days.
Burning wood was likely to cause most of Tokoroa’s air pollution, and 82 percent of residents used wood fires, which did not burn as cleanly as other fuels.
While the weather was now getting warmer, now was the time to make changes to home heating systems to ensure the problems were lessened next winter, he said. Residents should get their firewood in now so it was not green by next winter, and ensure that it was stored in a dry place for at least six months before it was burnt to lessen smoke.
Other tips for more efficient wood burning include:
- Small hot fires which produce less smoke.
- Add a little wood at a time.
- Give the fire air to reduce smoke.
- Clean chimneys and fireboxes regularly.
- Cover windows, insulate walls and ceilings, cut drafts.
- Convert to new log burners which burn cleaner than open fires.
Residents are also warned not to bank fires overnight, burn treated, green or painted wood, plywood or particle board, rubbish, plastic or cardboard, garden leaves or waste.
The leaflet is the first stage of a campaign to provide more information for people in Tokoroa before next winter to clear the air.