In brief: Getting air

Auckland Council's ambition to make the city the most liveable in the world is being helped by a study into air quality and noise pollution on one of the country's busiest streets.

Scientists from NIWA, The University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology took to Queen Street and adjacent Customs, Wellesley, Elliot and Lorne Streets for two weeks to capture data on how traffic affects noise and air quality. The conclusion to the study will reveal problem spots and times during the day, and help build an idea of what people are exposed to when walking around the CBD.

NIWA's Air Quality Programme Leader, Dr Ian Longley, says the study is intended to determine the air quality across different  streets, comparing factors like traffic, buildings and street widths.

"The project will inform us about the degree to which heavy diesel vehicles influence air quality, such as trucks driving to the Ports of Auckland, and buses concentrated in areas. The findings will give those making big decisions about the future of the city more information to constructively plan and update crucial areas of the CBD.

"With the number of people living in Auckland city swelling, it's important to look into factors that will affect health and well-being. Air quality and public health are connected in the long run. "Pollutants we are looking at include those from petrol and diesel engines, which have been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular health impacts," says Dr Longley.

Results of the testing are due in the New Year. 

Auckland University student Huimin Lin carrying a “PTrak” particle counter in her left hand, a “Langan” carbon monoxide sensor on her belt, a noise meter pinned to her cardy, and a GPS receiver in her belt. She is shown walking on a specified route in Queen Street. She took this route (Wyndham Street to Wellesley Street and back) every 15 minutes during rush hour, whilst others, similarly equipped, walked other specified routes. She used the notebook to note down her timings, and anything that might impact the measurements – sources of loud noise, dirty vehicles, etc. [Ian Longley]