Invercargill has exceeded the national environmental standards for air quality for the first time, two months into Environment Southland’s winter air quality monitoring period.

On Monday the Pomona St monitoring site recorded a 24-hour average PM10 concentration of 53mcg per cu m (micrograms per cubic metre of air), just over the standards’ threshold of 50mcg per cu m.

Environment Southland air quality scientist Owen West said readings for Invercargill had been increasing over the past two months.

“With readings above the threshold or even just below, the smell of smoke can be really obvious and also quite visible. For many people, this makes the simple task of breathing more difficult, especially for those who are more susceptible to health complications, such as children, the elderly and others with respiratory conditions,” Mr West said.

“Keeping the fire burning hot and bright, burning only dry wood, not banking your fire overnight and ensuring the chimney is swept and the burner maintained will all help reduce the volume of smoke and is a big step to cleaner air this winter.

“Last winter, Southland made fantastic progress with Invercargill and Gore having their best air quality results on record over the winter period.”

The regional air plan includes regulations to help improve air quality.

Non-compliant burners are being progressively phased out. As of January 2022 any burner in Invercargill and Gore that was installed before January 1, 2001, must now be replaced with a compliant burner.

Environment Southland operates a Good Wood-approved suppliers’ scheme, which firewood retailers voluntarily agree to be part of.

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