In New Zealand, the 2012 Updated Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand (HAPINZ) Study 4457 found more than 2,300 New Zealanders die prematurely each year due to exposure to PM10 pollution, from all sources, with just over half associated with anthropogenic sources. The social costs associated with air pollution are considerable. The updated HAPINZ study conservatively estimated for New Zealand these to be $4.28 billion per year or $1,061 per person per year.
By world standards, New Zealand has good air quality due to limited heavy industry, strong winds that disperse pollutants and distance from other sources of pollution. However, some parts of New Zealand, particularly urban areas, occasionally have high air pollution levels
In Auckland, the main causes of air pollution are transport and domestic fires. Transport is the biggest contributor to air pollution in summer. In winter, particle air pollution triples due to the use of domestic wood burners. Air pollution affects the health and wellbeing of Aucklanders, causing around 260 premature deaths in Auckland per year and an estimated social cost of $1.10 billion per year
The 2015 Government state of the environment report Environment Aotearoa 2015 identified the primary sources of pollutants in New Zealand:
In New Zealand, home heating is the primary source of pollutants that cause most concern. This is a problem mainly in winter, in places where households use wood or coal to keep their homes warm. Transport is another major source of pollutants that can harm our health, usually in urban areas near busy roads. For both home heating and transport emissions, pollutants are most likely to become a problem on still, cold days, when particles are less likely to disperse.
In rural areas, air quality issues may also result from agrichemical spray drift and dust nuisance.
Environment Aotearoa 2015 found that overall there had been significant improvements in New Zealand’s air quality with decreases in emission from both burning wood and coal and from vehicles.
The Ministry for the Environment website and the Environment Aotearoa 2015 report both contain a useful description of types of air pollutants.
Kuschel et al, “Updated Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand Study”, Health Research Council of New Zealand, March 2012, available at http://www.hapinz.org.nz/HAPINZ%20Update_Vol%201%20Summary%20Report.pdf
Last updated at 11:28AM on November 23, 2017