Improving air quality in Central Otago necessary but not easy
Thursday, 02 November 2006
A recent Otago Regional Council survey found that almost all residents in Central Otago towns are aware of local air pollution and what causes it, but many are reluctant to change the way they heat their homes in order to reduce it.
The Central Otago Home Heating and Air Pollution survey looked at perceptions of air pollution levels in towns, and home heating methods during the cold spell this winter.
Local councillor Duncan Butcher said that while awareness of the problem is high and many residents were already making efforts to keep smog down, some big adjustments still needed to be made to achieve acceptable levels of air quality.
More than 98 percent of survey respondents were aware that Central Otago towns have air pollution problems in winter, and nearly 90 percent agreed that something should be done to improve the air.
"The survey shows the benefits of clean air are well recognised, especially health," Cr Butcher said. "Improved air quality in future will mean less coughing and easier breathing in neighbourhoods, especially for people with respiratory problems. The air could also look, smell and even taste better."
Open fires, wood burners and multi fuel burners and the way people use them were identified in the survey as the main causes of air pollution. And nearly 60 percent of suggestions for ways to improve local air quality were fire-related. However, almost six out of ten respondents said they mostly used some form of solid fuel heating during the cold weather in June.
"If we accept that smoke from household chimneys is the major cause of air pollution, it follows that the most effective way to improve the situation is to change home heating methods," Cr Butcher said. "The solution might look straightforward, but in Central we have some of the coldest temperatures in the country, and people have traditionally relied on wood and coal to keep their houses warm in winter.
"Achieving a balance between warm homes and clean air is not going to be easy," Cr Butcher said, "but it has to be done."
Today at the Council's Alexandra office Cr Butcher presented vouchers to the winners of the survey prize draw, and an environmental achievement certificate to the Terrace School for their work towards improving the town's air quality.
Copies of the findings of the Central Otago Home Heating and Air Pollution are available on www.orc.govt.nz or from Council offices.For more information
Cr Duncan Butcher
03 445 0463 or 0274 343 876
Director Policy & Resource Planning
03 474 0827 or 0274 900 903