Masterton’s Air Quality

We need to improve Masterton’s air during winter. Wood burning is a great way to keep our homes warm, but it’s also the biggest culprit for smog in winter – and that hurts our health.

If we all burn better and reduce the amount of smoke we put into the air, we can breathe easier. Better burning means more heat from your fire with less smoke – that’s because smoke is just wood that hasn’t been fully burnt. It’s important to make sure your woodburner is efficient, and your wood is dry and untreated. Air quality is measured by World Health Organisation guidelines focused on small, inhalable particle matter, referred to as PM2.5. The WHO target allows no more than three “high pollution” days a year where PM2.5 levels are above a certain level (25 micrograms per cubic metre). Ministry for the Environment is currently consulting on adopting the WHO guidelines for NZ.

In 2019 the Masterton area exceeded the WHO guideline on 40 days. Since monitoring started in 2011 the number of high pollution days per year has been reducing, although the actual number of high pollution days can move up and down between years depending on the weather.

Masterton needs everyone to adopt better wood burning techniques so that we’ve got clean air to breathe during winter.

Here are the main tips:

–        Have your chimney cleaned before each winter
–        Wood is dry, and untreated
–        Your fire burns bright and hot so it doesn’t produce smoke
–        Don’t shut the fire damper (air vent) down overnight

Breathing air polluted with wood smoke harms our health. Effects include:

–        irritated eyes, throat, sinuses, and lungs
–        headaches
–        reduced lung function, especially in children
–        lung inflammation or swelling
–        increased risk of lower respiratory diseases
–        more severe or frequent symptoms from existing lung diseases (such as asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, and bronchitis).

We want Masterton to have healthy, clean air to breathe, let’s all play our part and become better burners.

You can learn more about burning better on the Greater Wellington Regional Council website.

Air Quality Monitoring

To see animations showing wind conditions and air quality over 24-hour periods across Masterton during winter 2020 visit NIWA’s monitoring page.

To see air quality levels in Masterton and other towns in New Zealand go to the LAWA (Land Air Water Aotearoa) environmental data website.

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