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Te Kuiti air quality breaches national standard in July

Now is a great time to start thinking about buying firewood for next winter, so it’s nice and dry by the time you use it, Environment Waikato says.

Burning dry firewood is one thing Te Kuiti people can do to help improve local air quality, as dry wood produces less smoke.

“We encourage people to buy their firewood in spring or summer,” said EW air quality scientist Dr Nick Kim.

“It’s generally cheaper and getting it early gives you more time to stack and dry it before use.”

Dr Kim’s advice follows the release of regional council air quality monitoring figures for July, which show the National Environmental Standard (NES) for air quality was exceeded twice in Te Kuiti last month.

Air quality is assessed by measuring the amount of fine particles (PM10) in the air.  These tiny particles are not visible to the human eye and are small enough to get into human lungs and cause serious health problems.

The NES says PM10 should not exceed 50 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3) of air more than once over a 24-hour period, but it was exceeded in Te Kuiti on June 16, and again on July 11 and 12, with recordings of 53μg/m3, 51μg/m3 and 56μg/m3 respectively.

“In winter in Te Kuiti, most PM10 comes from smoke from wood burned in home fires, not from industry or vehicles,” Dr Kim said.

“People need to stay warm, but there are simple things you can do to cut down the amount of PM10 coming out of you chimney, such as burning dry wood, giving your fire plenty of air so it burns hotter and cleaner, not overloading the fire and not damping down your burner overnight.”

Visit www.ew.govt.nz/firewood(external link) for great tips on how to get the most heat from your firewood, save money and reduce PM10 emissions to improve the health of your family and your neighbours.

Environment Waikato has been working on addressing air quality problems in Te Kuiti by helping eligible low income households replace smoky wood fires with clean heat appliances. Enquiries on the Waikato Clean Heat Programme can be directed to Waitomo District Council’s community development manager Rebecca Whitehead on freephone 0800 932 4357.

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