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Taupo air quality breaches national standard twice 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 Taupo people can do to help improve local air quality, because 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 Taupo twice last month.  There were four breaches of the standard in June.

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 Taupo on July 10 (65μg/m3) and July 26 (61μg/m3).

“In winter in Taupo, most PM10 comes from smoke from wood burned in homes, 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.

Meanwhile, Environment Waikato and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority provided more than $150,000 of funding over the 2008/09 year to help address air quality problems in Taupo.

The funding was used to remove 42 smoky wood burners from Taupo homes and replace them with clean-burning appliances such as efficient wood burners, pellet fires and heat pumps.

If you would like to find out more about subsidies available for replacing your wood burner, please visit www.eeca.govt.nz(external link).

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