Cromwell has recently been crowned as having the worst air pollution in Otago. Houses with wood burners are apparently to blame, but many speculate that the topography of our location is the cause. Our notorious lingering fogs and valley location can often trap air, and therefore pollution, for days at a time.
It seems unrealistic that we can be worst than larger towns like Queenstown, Wanaka and Dunedin when they have much larger populations & therefore wood burners. Interestingly Arrowtown, which is notorious for wood burner smoke lingering in the basin (you can see it on a cold morning), have not exceeded their acceptable limits this year on the LAWA website.
NIWA and ORC need to undertake more research into readings in neighbouring populated areas and how our location & weather could be causing these readings. By understanding all factors, we can create a way to reduce our impact on air quality and rid ourselves of this disappointing title.
The local council have decided to not address this issue for at least two years due to lack of funding. The delay in action will keep Cromwell at the top of the leader board for pollution and damage our image to the rest of NZ.
We all need to do our bit to reduce our impact on the atmosphere, but that is not just people of Cromwell, its everyone in NZ.
It is great that the local school kids helped this study and hope they can help us push the ORC and the community to think more about their impact on our local air quality and therefore health.