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4 June 2020

Masterton District Council is optimistic that gradual improvements in the town’s air quality will continue this winter.

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).

Masterton’s air quality has shown signs of improvement since 2011, although weather patterns make it difficult to observe an underlying trend. Last winter there were 40 high pollution days, up from 30 in 2018, but better than 45 in 2017.

The levels are still too high and we would like to see these come down.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said she was keen to see the town do better this winter.

“Masterton is a fantastic place with plenty on offer for all our residents, but air quality is an area where we definitely need to do better,” Lyn said.

“The council’s wellbeing strategy includes a community outcome where people in Masterton have clean air to breathe – we take this seriously.

“Each day Masterton records high pollution is a day where people’s health can be impacted.”

Smoke from woodburners is the biggest contributor to air pollution during winter.

“We know how important wood burning is for many people to keep their homes warm, but let’s all burn better and smarter and improve the air quality in Masterton,” Lyn said.

The Council is encouraging everyone to understand how their habits at home can contribute to poor air quality.

“If excessive smoke is coming out of your chimney after the fire has become established, then you have some improvements to make,” Lyn said. “Excessive smoke is a sign that wood is not burning completely, and that means less heat – and less value for the money spent on firewood.”