Air quality in Hawke’s Bay complies most of the time, but monitoring by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) shows that high PM10 levels (poor air quality) occur over the Hastings and Napier urban areas on cold, clear winter nights.
The main cause is home heating, ie, small-scale solid fuel burners such as wood burners and open fires; and outdoor burning.
National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ) require that by September 2013 the amount of PM10 in the air cannot exceed a 24 hour average of more than 50 µg/m3 (microgram per cubic meter) more than once per year. Currently PM10 levels over Napier and Hastings urban centres on cold, clear winter nights exceed this NESAQ.
In December 2008, HBRC proposed a Plan Change to comply with the NESAQ and thus improve air quality in Hawke's Bay; including rules restricting use of small-scale solid fuel burners and outdoor burning. As a result of the Plan Change, HBRC has developed a Healthy Homes and Clean Heat Initiative (Clean Heat) to ease the transition for households towards home heating which do not contribute to breaches of the NESAQ. Clean Heat provides financial assistance for households towards insulation and clean heat and includes communications, marketing and public education.
HBRC was invited to engage with the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board (HBDHB) to conduct a health impact assessment (HIA) on the Plan Change.
The HIA concentrated on the replacement/removal of heating sources, including both the one off and ongoing costs/impacts on the low income population group. This component was the most able to be influenced at this stage in the Plan Change, and the implementation of this component covers important issues for Council and the community such as financial assistance which could be part of Clean Heat. The HIA examined how the NESAQ, Plan Change and Clean Heat might have intended effects on outdoor ambient air quality (PM10) with subsequent direct and indirect impacts on health and wellbeing; and unintended effects on indoor air quality and temperature with subsequent direct and indirect impacts on health and wellbeing.
The HIA recommended that the HBRC:
- along with the HBDHB, continues to support the Healthy Homes Coalition and their implementation and business plan for 2009-2012
- develops a holistic and “wrap around” approach with other agencies/organisations to implement the Plan Change and Clean Heat
- develops a community education programme which focuses on new requirements of the Plan Change and raises awareness of the financial assistance packages
- works in partnership with the Health Promotion advisors at the Hawke’s Bay DHB on how to implement community education programmes
- supports manufacturers, carpet/curtain/wood banks in the Hawke’s Bay region to complement the Clean Heat programme
- works with appropriate agencies/organisations to develop and optimise local workforce and industry capacity.