Health benefits of cleaner air highlighted

Improved air quality could keep vulnerable Cantabrians out of the hospital this winter.

Dr. Ramon Pink, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, said: “Clean air is necessary for health and wellbeing.  Winter air pollution in Canterbury, mainly caused by smoky chimneys, leads to far too many premature deaths, hospital admissions and days off work or school.”

In 2012, a nationwide study showed air pollution from human-made PM10 was associated with 1000 premature deaths, 520 extra hospital admissions for cardiovascular or respiratory diseases and 1.35 million restricted activity days (when symptoms were sufficient to prevent usual activities such as work or study).

Elderly people, young children and those with pre-existing medical conditions were most affected.

Air pollution and the impact on health

Environment Canterbury air quality director Katherine Trought said the good news is that air quality in Canterbury is improving, thanks to the efforts of thousands of people to burn smoke-free and upgrade to cleaner heating technology.

“Overall, Canterbury has reduced the number of high pollution days from 130 in 2008 to 45 in 2017.  That’s progress, but there’s still a long way to go before we can be confident the air our communities breathe supports health and wellbeing.”

“A nationwide reduction in PM10 concentrations in the air from 2006 to 2012 is estimated to have led to a decrease in negative health impacts.  As a regional council, we want to see more of that progress through our air quality initiatives.  That’s why our Air Plan encourages the use of cleaner heating technology, and our winter air programme focuses on teaching wood burner users about how to burn smoke-free,” she said.

Canterbury District Health Board supports the Canterbury Air Regional Plan, recognising the long-term health benefits for Cantabrians.

For more information on how to burn smoke-free visit

Read about current home heating measures in all Clean Air Zones.