Ambient Air Quality Guidelines

The Ambient Air Quality Guidelines provide guidance on how to manage air quality. They set guideline values to ensure our air is clean and healthy to breathe. 

Link to the guidelines

About the guidelines

The Ambient Air Quality Guidelines promote the sustainable management of the air resource in New Zealand.  They are in addition to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ).

The guideline values are minimum requirements that all outdoor air quality should meet to protect people and ecosystems from significant adverse effects. As with the NESAQ they are not 'safe' limits to pollute up to.

How they differ from the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality

Key differences between the national ambient air quality guidelines and the NESAQ are that the guidelines:

  • include a wide variety of pollutants, including toxics, whereas the NESAQ include only five priority pollutants
  • promote the protection of both ecosystems and human health whereas the NESAQ are based on human health only
  • recognise and promote the maintenance and enhancement of air quality through the use of environmental indicators (for example, the establishment of action and alert levels below the guideline values).

Regional air quality guidelines may be more stringent than the national guidelines

The national ambient air quality guidelines were last updated in 2002. Your regional council may have its own air quality guidelines. Regional guidelines may be more stringent than the New Zealand guidelines because you may have a particular air quality issue in your region. We recommend you refer to your regional air plan to find out more details for your region. See Council maps and websites [LGNZ website]