Report: TR 2016/10
Author: Emily Wilton, Environet Ltd
In the Waikato Region the main air pollutant of concern is fine particulate matter. These tiny particles suspended in air come in many shapes and sizes with varying toxicity depending on whether they were produced from domestic fires, vehicles, industry, or from natural sources such as sea salt, dust, pollens and volcanic activity. For health reasons we monitor the levels of particles that are small enough to be inhaled (PM10) and in some situations levels of PM2.5 which are even smaller sized particles able to penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.
The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ) sets maximum concentration limits for pollutants such as PM10. Regional councils are required to monitor air quality where it is likely that there may be breaches of these pollutant standards.
In 2015 concentrations of PM10 were measured in Hamilton, Tokoroa, Taupo, Te Kuiti, Putaruru, Turangi, Cambridge, Te Awamutu-Kihikihi and Morrinsville. Monitoring of PM2.5 was also carried out in Tokoroa and Hamilton with monitoring of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (typically associated with vehicle emissions) also undertaken in Hamilton.
The only urban area in breach of standards or guidelines for 2015 was Tokoroa with ten exceedences of the daily PM10 standard and 17 exceedances of the WHO daily PM2.5 guideline occurring over the winter season. Tokoroa is unlikely to comply with the NESAQ target of no more than three exceedences of the PM10 standard by 1 September 2016.