Air

The air domain comprises the shallow gas layer that surrounds Earth above ground level. Natural and human-made sources – such as emissions from home heating, transport, and industrial activities – contribute to the presence of pollutants in the air. These pollutants can adversely affect our health and our natural environment, which in turn can have negative economic impacts.

Find out about the state of our air, the pressures that contribute to this state, and the impact on us.

Latest news

2018 air indicators are now available

See Air domain updates for the latest news on air domain indicators.
  • PM10 annual average concentrations

    Particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter (PM10) in the air comprises solid particles and liquid droplets from both natural and human-made sources.

  • Annual average PM10 concentrations in OECD countries (urban areas)

    Reporting on the annual average PM10 concentrations in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries helps us understand the scale of PM10 pollution in New Zealand and how we rank internationally.

  • Annual average PM10 concentrations in towns and cities

    This comparison helps us understand how PM10 concentrations vary across the country and the number of sites exceeding the WHO guideline. 

  • Total suspended particulate concentrations in Auckland

    2018 air indicators

    Total suspended particulates (TSP) are solid particles and liquid droplets 100 micrometres or less in diameter. They come from natural and human-made sources (eg from pollen or burning wood or coal for home heating).

  • PM10 daily concentrations

    Particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter (PM10) in the air comprises solid particles and liquid droplets from both natural and human-made sources.

  • Seasonality of PM10 exceedances

    We compare the daily concentrations of particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter (PM10) in the air with the national short-term standard. This highlights the pattern of daily PM10 exceedances over a one-year period. 

  • PM2.5 concentrations

    PM2.5 are particles 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter. They are largely produced from human sources, in particular burning wood or coal for home heating. PM2.5 is a component of PM10 and is associated with similar health effects.

  • Seasonality of PM2.5 exceedances

    Particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter (PM2.5) in the air is associated with serious health effects, such as cardiovascular diseases. This highlights the pattern of daily PM2.5 exceedances over a one-year period. 

  • Nitrogen dioxide concentrations

    Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a gas. It can be emitted directly into the air but is often formed when nitric oxide (NO) emissions react with other chemicals in the air.

  • Regional council and unitary authority monitoring of nitrogen dioxide

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    In New Zealand, motor vehicles are the main human-made source of nitrogen oxides (NOx is the collective term for nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide).

  • Ground-level ozone concentrations

    Ozone occurs in two regions of Earth’s atmosphere – at ground level and in the upper atmosphere. Ground-level ozone is a gas formed by chemical reactions involving sunlight, volatile organic compounds, and nitrogen oxides.

  • Carbon monoxide concentrations

    Carbon monoxide is a gas formed by incomplete combustion of fuels, in particular from road motor vehicles and burning wood and coal for home heating. It also occurs naturally, for example, from wild fires.

  • Sulphur dioxide concentrations

    Sulphur dioxide is a gas produced from human (eg industry and shipping) and natural (geothermal and volcanic) activities. Nationally, the main human-made source of sulphur oxides emissions is industry. 

  • Arsenic concentrations

    Arsenic is a toxic chemical element. Airborne arsenic is emitted mainly when timber that is treated with a preservative containing chromium, copper, and arsenic is burned for home heating.

  • Benzene concentrations

    Benzene is a volatile organic compound. Motor vehicle use and home heating are the main sources of airborne benzene emissions. Natural sources include volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene can affect the nervous system and is associated with some forms of cancer. 

  • Benzo(a)pyrene concentrations

    Benzo(a)pyrene is an organic compound mainly emitted from burning wood or coal for home heating. Vehicles and some industrial processes also emit this. Benzo(a)pyrene can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. It is also associated with some forms of cancer and harmful developmental and reproductive effects. 

  • Lead concentrations

    Lead is a heavy metal. Airborne sources include some industrial discharges, such as at metal smelters and the removal of lead-based paint from buildings without proper safety precautions.

  • Home-heating emissions

    Burning wood or coal for home heating emits a range of air pollutants. It is the main human-made source of particulate matter and a significant contributor of carbon monoxide. Exposure to these pollutants can damage health.

  • Road motor vehicle emissions

    Road motor vehicles emit a range of air pollutants from their exhausts, and from brake and tyre wear. They are the main human-made source of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide emissions. Exposure to these pollutants can damage health.

  • Relative contribution of key human-made emission sources

    Burning wood and coal for home heating, road motor vehicle use, industrial activities, and household outdoor burning are the key human-made sources of air pollutants in New Zealand. These pollutants have a range of health effects.

  • Relative contribution of other human-made emissions

    While there are key sources of human-made emissions, there are other human-made sources of pollution – such as aviation, forestry, and non-combustion industrial activities that emit relatively small amounts of key air pollutants.

  • Industrial emissions

    Industrial activities emit a range of pollutants that affect our air quality. The health effects associated with exposure to these pollutants range from respiratory irritation to some forms of cancer. 

  • Natural PM10

    Particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter (PM10) in the air comprises solid particles and liquid droplets from both natural and human-made sources. PM10 occurs naturally, for example, as sea salt, dust (airborne soil), or pollen.

  • Health effects from exposure to PM10

    Particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter (PM10) in the air comprises solid particles and liquid droplets from both natural and human-made sources. PM10 is of particular concern because of high concentrations in some areas.

Image, Air domain.
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