The air we breathe every day, in our homes, schools, workplaces, on our way to work and as we exercise, affects our health. This is especially true for those of us with respiratory conditions.
In New Zealand, we like to think that we are breathing clean air as we go about our daily lives, but that’s not always the case.
By international standards, New Zealand’s outdoor air quality is good. However, recent local research has found that air pollution from vehicles and wood-burning fires are causing increasing health issues in communities across New Zealand. Estimates from the HAPINZ 3.0 Study published in 2022, found that air pollution caused approximately 13,000 cases of childhood asthma in one year and 845 hospitalisations for children with asthma.
This research also found that 81% of New Zealanders live in areas where the average pollution (PM2.5 level) exceeded WHO guidelines. Pacific peoples, Māori and those on low incomes are much more likely to live in areas with poor air quality.
Outdoor air quality is affected by the transport we use, the fuel we use to heat our homes and by industrial processes and practices. To improve our air quality, we need to keep looking for smarter, more sustainable and cost-effective ways to travel, run businesses, and heat our homes. The Foundation supports actions that reduce emissions and improve the quality of the air we breathe.
It’s estimated that people spend up to 90% of their lives indoors. The air we breathe inside our homes, workplaces and schools has a significant effect on our health, particularly on the very young, the very old and those with respiratory conditions. Indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air, as without proper ventilation, pollutants can get trapped inside.
Indoor air quality is affected by a number of factors:
While there are some actions we can take to improve indoor air quality, we also need good laws in place to ensure all New Zealanders live in homes where they can breathe easily. Our homes need to be warm, dry, and well-ventilated. The Foundation supports legislation and initiatives that will improve indoor air quality in homes, workplaces, schools and public indoor spaces.
We want to see:
The introduction of standards for indoor air quality, along with ongoing measurement and monitoring of air quality in public spaces.
Continuing measures to reduce transport, fuel and industrial emissions.
For more information on how to ventilate your home and reduce damp, go here.
For more information on indoor air quality visit the Indoor Air Quality Research Centre NZ.