The Ministry for the Environment released the Resource Management (National Environmental Standards Relating to Certain Air Pollutants, Dioxins, and Other Toxics) Regulations 2004 to help reduce or manage fine particle (PM10*) levels. PM10* are of concern as they can be drawn into the lungs causing or aggravating health problems, particularly respiratory problems. The main cause of the PM10* problem is emissions from domestic woodburners, although vehicle emissions, backyard burning and, to a lesser extent, industry, may also contribute.

As PM10* can adversely affect people’s health, the national standard has been included in the airshed monitoring programmes. Direct monitoring results for wintertime PM10*, between 2001 and 2003 in 11 population centres in the Region showed that Taumarunui and Taihape exceeded the PM10* standard and Ohakune, Feilding, Dannevirke and Pahiatua had the potential to exceed it. Wintertime PM10* levels in the other five centres – Whanganui, Palmerston North, Levin, Marton and Ashhurst – were under the PM10* standard. PM10* levels will continue to be monitored and programmes will be established to reduce them to the standards set in the regulation.