A recent report on health and air pollution in New Zealand estimates that poor air quality has a significant impact on the health of New Zealanders – probably more than people ￼realise.
The report, based on 2006 data, estimates that air pollution from fires used for home heating, vehicles, open burning, and industry may cause the premature deaths of over 1,000 people each year and causes $4.28 billion in social costs. The Asthma Foundation’s Medical Director Dr Bob Hancox says “it’s not just the high number of deaths that are worrying, many other people will suffer from ill-health due to poor air quality.”
￼The report shows that home-heating fires are the leading cause of the man-made air- pollution deaths, except in central Auckland, where exhaust from motor vehicles is the top killer.
The estimates are mostly based on exposures to tiny pollution particles, less than one- hundredth of a millimetre in diameter. They can lodge in the airways and lungs; the smaller "ultra-fine" particles can even enter the bloodstream. The particles can cause or contribute to various sicknesses with the very young, the elderly and people with chronic respiratory diseases the most vulnerable.
￼The biggest source of this pollution is domestic fires. The introduction of low emission woodburner standards and various insulation and clean-heat retrofit program will hopefully have lowered the emissions from domestic fires in the last 5 years.
“The Foundation encourages all those with a respiratory condition especially to keeping your house warm and dry - good house insulation and an efficient form of heating such as a heat pump or low emission woodburner can help you do this without polluting your environment. It will also save money in the long run” says Dr Hancox.
“This report is a valuable assessment of our current air quality and its impact on our health. We will need follow-up information to assess the impact of the latest woodburner standards. We need information on ultrafine particulate air pollution - PM2.5. This is not routinely monitored in New Zealand but recent evidence suggests that it may be more important than the PM10 levels that we currently measure.” says Dr Hancox.
The Updated Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand Study (2012) was undertaken by Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand (HAPINZ). The full report can be found at www.hapinz.org.nz
Popular competitions and giveaways from Gimme.co.nz: NZ's People Powered Guide to Free Stuff. Links will open on Gimme.
Join Voxy on Google+.