Impacts of air pollutants

This programme will improve the capability of local government to achieve compliance with air quality standards and guidelines, and conduct evidence-based risk assessments.It will also provide useful science for the development of future air quality standards by MfE, and tools for urban planning, making a contribution to public health. This will be based on an improved understanding of causality of the health effects of air pollution based on advances in exposure assessment.

Science within the programme will:

  • characterise urban air quality (concentrations, composition and toxic potential), and the key related atmospheric processes in New Zealand
  • develop diagnostic and assessment tools for application to New Zealand's key air quality issues, and to assist air quality management. Tools and information will be provided to regional councils to assist them in quantifying their emissions, assessing policy and planning options, and validate mitigation
  • characterise the distribution of air pollution exposure amongst the New Zealand population, and describe the key processes and factors which determine that exposure. This will link into national and international research on the relationship between pollution exposure and health
  • assess the long-term effects and feedbacks between air quality and related factors conventionally outside the remit of air quality management (e.g. changes in climate, infrastructure, technology, urban land-use, and human behaviour)
  • contribute to the revising National Environmental Standards (NES) for air quality, MfE tier 1 statistics, Ministry of Health Environmental Health Indicators and the Transport Monitoring Indicator Framework.

Key collaborations

Within this programme we are collaborating with the following groups:

  • University of Pittsburgh on spatially-resolved source apportionment
  • Queensland University of Technology on the UPTECH (Ultrafine Particles from Traffic Emissions & Children's Health) project
  • University of Otago and Auckland health researchers
  • University of Canterbury for air quality meteorology and dispersion modelling
  • Health and Social Geographers (GeoHealth Lab, SHORE) for input into exposure science
  • University of Canterbury for transport engineering and BRANZ for input into indoor air quality
  • Liaise with special interest research procurement groups such as Transport Related Air Pollution – Technical Advisory Group (TRAP-TAG) and the Regional Councils' research Steering Group (RC RSG).

We are also working with CASANZ and the Centre for Sustainable Cities to extend the reach of our air quality research and enable its wider links to sustainable planning.

Related research projects

Reports and Workshops from NIWA's air quality research

NIWA has been conducting air quality research for over twenty years.  Since 2004 there have been three major research programmes.

"Protecting New Zealand's Clean Air" was the name of the FRST-funded air quality research programme, which ran from 2004-2008.  It was followed by "Healthy Urban Atmospheres", funded from 2008 to 2012.  That programme was superceded by "Impacts of Air Pollutants" in 2012.  Reports and Workshop material produced by all these programmes are available below.

Download the Air Quality Research Road Map. This document summarises directions for air quality research in  New Zealand for the next decade (published June 2014):