Northland air quality data now on LAWA website too

8 Jul 2016

Environmental monitoring website Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) has expanded and now shows data on the air that we breathe on top of existing information on New Zealand’s other most valuable natural resource, our water.

Real-time data for monitored towns throughout the country – including Whangarei and Ruakaka in Northland – is now available via the website www.lawa.org.nz

Provision of air quality data is timely as air quality becomes an issue for many towns in New Zealand in winter.

LAWA shows the latest hourly and daily data for PM10, an air pollutant, as well as longer-term seasonal and annual trends.

Stephen Woodhead, chair of Local Government New Zealand’s regional sector, says good air quality is fundamental to our health but over the winter months can be an issue for many towns and cities in colder parts of the country.

“LAWA shows how air quality changes over time in towns throughout New Zealand, and what the biggest contributors are for poor air quality,” he says.

“While regional and unitary councils use air quality monitoring data to determine how air quality needs to be managed in their regions, each and every one of us can take steps such as choosing low emission home heating to improve the air quality where we live.”

Northland Regional Council Air Quality Specialist Obi Khanal says the region is fortunate that due to a combination of factors – including its warmer climate and wind patterns, low traffic volumes and few industrial discharges – it typically enjoys excellent air quality.

“Over the past 12 months none of our monitored sites have breached national environmental standards for air quality.”

However, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Alistair Humphrey says other parts of the country are not so fortunate.

“Poor air quality is a silent killer which accounts for more than 2300 premature deaths in New Zealand every year.  About half of these deaths are from man-made pollution.”

Dr Humphrey says anyone with an interest in their environment should take a look at the LAWA website, which enables people to see how the situation is changing – for better or worse.

LAWA is a collaboration between New Zealand’s 16 regional and unitary councils, the Cawthron Institute, Ministry for the Environment and has been supported by the Tindall Foundation.

Launched in 2014, LAWA now has data available from about 150 air monitoring sites nationally, bringing the total number of sites it reports environmental information on to almost 3000.