The Otago Regional Council (ORC) air quality team has upgraded monitoring sites in Milton to record finer home heating particulate matter.
‘‘Milton has some of the worst air quality in Otago, due in part to widespread use of older multi-fuel burners,’’ the Land Air Water Aotearoa website says.
‘‘Results indicate Milton air quality does not meet the National Environmental Standard for PM10 in excess of 40 days each year.’’
Previous instruments only monitored solid or liquid particles in the air smaller than 10 micrometres (PM10), including vehicle and industrial emissions and natural sources such as dust and pollen, but ORC says the main source of PM10 in Otago is from home heating.
The upgrades are part of a move to monitor down to PM2.5 and focus on even smaller combustion-related particulate matter, which ORC says is more harmful to health, as smaller particles can enter the bloodstream after inhalation into our lungs.
‘‘These upgrades will help monitor for unhealthy levels of air pollution. The new instruments on site are more reliable, and will require fewer site visits and technician time,’’ ORC general manager of policy and science Anita Dawe said.
Due to the prevalence of home heating emissions in their air quality data, ORC runs an annual Burn Dry, Breathe Easy campaign designed to highlight better management of home heating emissions including using only dry wood and burning no rubbish.
ORC says it accepts people want to keep burning fuel to keep warm during winter conditions, but everyone has responsibilities to improve air quality.
A historical and current snapshot of Milton air quality can be found at https://www.lawa.org.nz/explore-data/otago-region/air-quality/milton/.