Climate change and air pollution are a threat to respiratory health. It's important for us to take action and work towards minimising the effects of climate change, while preparing for the impact of decreased air quality and increased allergens.
Image courtesy of www.cdc.gov/
Climate change represents a massive threat to respiratory health: 1) by directly promoting or aggravating respiratory diseases; or 2) by increasing exposure to risk factors for respiratory diseases. Climate change increases the amount of pollen and allergen produced by each plant, mould proliferation and the concentrations of outdoor ozone and particulate matter at ground level. 
Decreased air quality poses the following health issues:
- Increased exposure to allergens and air pollutants
- Higher risk of bushfires, leading to smoke exposure
- Increased ground-level ozone and/ or particulate matter air pollution
View 'Climate Change Decreases the Quality of the Air We Breathe' by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.
The Government has standards for air quality which set a guaranteed minimum level of health protection for all New Zealanders:
- Standards on lighting fires and products burnt
- Outdoor (ambient) air standards for: Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen dioxide, ozone, PM10 and sulphur dioxide
- Home heating-related standards: Woodburners installed in urban properties (ie, less than 2 hectares) after 2005 need to meet set emissions and efficiency standards as per the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NES)
- Control of greenhouse gas emissions at landfills including a requirement for landfills that have a total capacity of over 1 million tonnes* of refuse to collect greenhouse gas emissions
- Climate change monitoring: Dedicated National Crown Research Institute -National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) 5 established in 1992 operates as a stand-alone company with its own Board of Directors and Executive
Challenges for New Zealand:
- How do we ensure the general public are made aware of the NES and NIWA activities? Utilise the ARFNZ as the ‘connector’ – social media, website and newsletters to patients and healthcare professionals
- How do we monitor adherence to NES?
- *Landfills to collect greenhouse gas emisisons data
- Regional councils to monitor air quality: Key air quality containments are measured and compared to national standards for air quality and other health guidelines E.g. Particles (PM10 and PM2.5), Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide
- How do monitor ARFNZ as the connector? Website site visits and referrals with qualitative surveys