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Air Quality

Air pollution, caused by natural and manmade sources, can cause serious health problems.

Air pollution can occur indoors, outdoors, in the city, the country, at leisure or at work. 

Clean air is a basic requirement of human health and wellbeing.  Environments should improve, not harm, our health.


What are the sources of air pollution?

Transport and home heating are two common sources of air pollution in New Zealand however sources are wide and varied.  Some common forms of air pollution come from manufacturing processes and combustion processes such as fuel burning wood burning, chemical processing, paints, household cleaning agents and agri-chemicals. 


Health risks

Air pollution can irritate the eyes, throat and lungs. Burning eyes, cough and chest tightness are common with exposure to high levels of air pollution.

People who have heart disease, such as angina (chest pain), or lung disease, such as asthma or emphysema, may be very sensitive to air pollution exposure, and may notice symptoms when others do not.


The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality set a guaranteed minimum level of health protection for all of New Zealand. The ambient air quality standard for a contaminants must not exceed its threshold concentration in an airshed unless the exceedance is a permitted by the standard. There are 5 standards for ambient air quality- carbon monoxide, particulate matter (PM10) (dust), hydrogen sulphide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide.

The National Ambient Air Quality Guidelines set concentration limits to promote sustainable management of the air resource in New Zealand. Coupled with global ambient air quality guidelines published by the World Health Organization, these guidelines provide concentration limits for the protection of human health.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is responsible for carrying out environmental monitoring of air quality against National Environmental Standards. Regional councils are required to identify areas where air quality is likely, or known, to exceed the standards – these areas are known as airsheds. Regional councils must give public notice if the ambient air quality standard for a contaminant is breached in an airshed in its region.

To learn whether ambient air quality meets the standards for the protection of human health in the Bay of Plenty, head to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council website


Further information


Toi Te Ora Public Health's Health Protection Officers provide information and advice to other agencies, businesses and the public on the adverse effects of poor air quality. Contact us for more information.

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