Air quality standards

The Government has standards for air quality which set a guaranteed minimum level of health protection for all New Zealanders. This page has summary information on the standards.

National Environmental Standards for Air Quality

The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality [New Zealand Legislation website] are regulations made under the Resource Management Act 1991. They are made up of 14 separate but interlinked standards. 

Standards banning activities that discharge significant quantities of dioxins and other toxics into the air

Prohibition on granting of resource consents for:

  • lighting of fires and burning of waste at landfill
  • burning of tyres
  • burning of bitumen
  • burning of coated wire
  • burning of oil
  • incinerators at schools and healthcare institutions
  • high-temperature hazardous waste incinerators.

Exceptions to these prohibited activities are specified in Regulations 6 to 12 of the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (Air Quality NES).

Outdoor (ambient) air standards*

Contaminant

Threshold concentration

Carbon monoxide

10 milligrams per cubic metre expressed as a running 8-hour mean

Nitrogen dioxide

200 micrograms per cubic metre expressed as a 1-hour mean

Ozone

150 micrograms per cubic metre expressed as a 1-hour mean

PM10

50 micrograms per cubic metre expressed as a 24-hour mean

Sulphur dioxide

350 micrograms per cubic metre expressed as a 1-hour mean

570 micrograms per cubic metre expressed as a 1-hour mean

*For allowed exceedences see Schedule 1 and Regulation 16B of the Air Quality NES. 

Home heating-related standards

Woodburners installed in urban properties (ie, less than 2 hectares) after 2005 need to meet the following emissions and efficiency standards set out in the Air Quality NES or more stringent emission limits set in regional air plans.

Woodburner emission standard Less than 1.5 grams of particles for each kilogram of dry wood burnt as measured using the method specified in the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4013:2014 or a functionally equivalent method.
Woodburner thermal efficiency standard

A minimum thermal efficiency of 65 per cent as measured using the method specified in the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4012:2014 or a functionally equivalent method.

Regulation 24A  Prohibits the installation of new open fires in areas that experience high levels of particulate matter (PM10) in the air.

Control of greenhouse gas emissions at landfills

Regulations 25 to 27 of the Air Quality NES include a requirement for landfills that have a total capacity of over 1 million tonnes of refuse to collect greenhouse gas emissions. 

Reviewed:
29/01/18