Scroll down for a short Canterbury tale
When our Canterbury towns and cities first began
our population was small and spread out.
As our population has grown,
winter air pollution has become
harmful to our health
even in our smaller towns.
In fact, our air pollution has been linked to a range of
respiratory and cardiovascular problems...
...from impaired activities and doctor or emergency visits,
through to reduced life expectancy.
We each breathe in around
10,000 litres of air every day.
The main pollutant that is bad for us is called
PM10 and is so small we can't even see it.
PM10 can be made up of things like sea salt, dust and smoke from cars and industry as well as smoke from home heating.
In winter, PM10 reaches
very high levels.
The most surprising fact about this winter air pollution
is that, in Canterbury, more than 80% of the PM10 problem
comes from houses using solid fuel for their heating -
particularly open fires and older burners.
On cold still nights the smoke doesn't blow away.
What most people don't know is that
chimney smoke is really just firewood that
hasn't burned completely and is wasted heat.
Many people don't even use solid fuel to keep warm.
We know all this about our air, because many people in
this country and overseas have spent years
researching the cause of air pollution and
the effect it has on our health.
A health guideline for PM10 has been set
by the World Health Organisation.
A PM10 daily reading of over
50 micrograms per cubic metre is
considered a high pollution day.
We measure PM10 in 7 Canterbury towns and last year almost all areas
had high pollution days.
Nobody wants to breathe polluted air
but it's not an easy balancing act.
In a perfect world there would be
zero-emission burners and cost effective
chimney filters, but we don't have that yet.
So what can we do now?
You should see
no visible smoke