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Published: 2011-02-01 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is urging residents to get fired up for winter and buy or collect firewood now, so it’s nice and dry by the time it’s needed.

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

“Air quality for the area exceeded safe levels three times last year, which is why we encourage people to buy their firewood in spring or summer,” said EW air quality scientist, Dr Nick Kim.

“As well as being generally cheaper, getting it early gives you more time to stack and dry it before use.”

Regional council air quality monitoring figures for 2003-2010 show the National Environmental Standard (NES) for air quality in Te Kuiti was exceeded on average four times during winter each year.

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 each year.

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

“While you need to stay warm, there are simple things each household can do to cut down the amount of PM10 coming out of your chimney, including burning dry wood.”

Visit www.ew.govt.nz/firewood 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.