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1 Introduction

1.1 Purpose of the Guide

The Good Practice Guide for Air Quality Monitoring and Data Management 2009 provides guidance to help achieve accurate and representative ambient air quality monitoring, using nationally consistent monitoring methods and reporting formats. The Guide also aims to make air quality monitoring information accessible by being a quick reference of methods and new developments.

This document replaces the Good Practice Guide for Air Quality Monitoring and Data Management published by the Ministry for the Environment in 2000. It does so by incorporating the significant developments (see section 1.2) that have occurred since the 2000 Guide was published.

This Guide aims to provide guidance for air quality monitoring and data management to ensure these are:

  • correct – air quality monitoring is of high quality and free from errors

  • representative– spatial/temporal variations and the extent of human exposure are considered when designing monitoring networks

  • consistent – air quality data is recorded, analysed, processed, reported and archived following best-practice principles

  • accessible – suppliers and users of air quality data have quick and easy access to methods, procedures and new developments.

1.2 Background

The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) requires regional councils / unitary authorities to monitor air quality and the state of the environment. In response, councils have prepared regional air quality plans, which contain objectives for air quality in the region together with policies and rules to achieve them.

Historically, information on New Zealand’s air quality was limited to data from a small number of monitoring sites. In recent years, many councils have designed and established air quality monitoring programmes of varying scales and complexities, and since 1993 the number of air quality monitoring sites in New Zealand has increased significantly (Ministry for the Environment, 2003a).

As monitoring programmes were established and existing ones expanded, concerns have been raised about data quality, reliability and comparability. In particular, data gathered by different techniques or to varying levels of quality assurance prevented the development of a reliable picture of air quality across New Zealand. To address these concerns, the Good Practice Guide for Air Quality Monitoring and Data Management (2000) was developed by the Ministry for the Environment in close collaboration with air quality specialists.

The objective of that guidance was to provide robust, good-quality monitoring and reporting practices that would ensure:

  • the effectiveness of different air quality management options could be evaluated

  • the comparability of air quality data between sites and regions

  • clear communication of information about air quality and its effects within a region and nationally (eg, through regional and national state of the environment reports).

Since the publication of the 2000 Guide there have been a number of developments.

  • Eight additional contaminants have been identified in the Ambient Air Quality Guidelines (AAQG) (Ministry for the Environment, 2002), updating the original 1994 document.

  • New Zealand’s first suite of national environmental standards in the Resource Management (National Environmental Standards Relating to Certain Air Pollutants, Dioxins and Other Toxics) Regulations 2004 (the regulations) was introduced on 6 September 2004. The regulations include the first ambient air quality standards in New Zealand, covering carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM10) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).

  • The Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST) programme, Keeping Our Air Clean, provided research and tools to help implement the national environmental standards (NES) for air quality. Specific outputs from this programme have provided additional guidance and resources for monitoring air quality, which are included in this new Guide.

  • The national Air Quality Database, developed by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Limited, was discontinued.

  • Annual, web-based national-level reporting of PM10 in monitored airsheds was introduced in 2005. This includes data on concentration, methodology and exceedences, together with straight-line-path information. This is a web-based update that can be accessed at the Ministry for the Environment’s website (www.mfe.govt.nz/state/reporting/air/nes/index.html).

These developments have led the Ministry to produce this updated guide, Good Practice Guide for Air Quality Monitoring and Data Management 2009, to replace the 2000 Guide. The Ministry intends to review and update the Guide as further developments occur (eg, the release of new standards from Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand).

1.3 Who will use this Guide?

The Guide is primarily intended to be used by councils, agencies, consultants and researchers when planning and carrying out:

  • regional air quality monitoring programmes

  • monitoring programmes to collect data for air quality models.

In addition, the Guide will be helpful for agencies planning and carrying out:

  • desktop assessments and screening surveys

  • various air quality research projects

  • other monitoring programmes.

1.4 Status of recommendations

The recommendations in this Guide represent best-practice approaches based on expert advice from experienced air quality scientists in New Zealand. They should be used wherever possible. However, the recommendations are not legislative requirements under the RMA or any other legislation.

The recommendations should be closely followed when collecting monitoring data for comparison with standards and guideline values or data from other locations. The methods are consistent with those recommended for use in the NES for air quality and by Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand. Different monitoring techniques may be useful when monitoring for other purposes, such as screening surveys.

1.5 What this Guide covers

The Guide provides best-practice guidance for undertaking air quality monitoring for various purposes. It also covers the statutory requirements for compliance monitoring and guidance for monitoring other contaminants listed in the Ambient Air Quality Guidelines (AAQG). It deals specifically with ambient air quality monitoring.

The Guide also covers the management of air quality data and includes guidelines for the collection, review, storage and dissemination of such data.

Although the focus is on air quality contaminants, some discussion on meteorological monitoring is included given that it plays a major role in the analysis and interpretation of air quality monitoring data.

The Guide is structured as follows.

  • Chapter 1 (this chapter) describes the aims of the Guide and sets its scope. It provides information on how the Guide was developed and explains the status of recommendations contained in the Guide.

  • Chapter 2 contains guidance on developing an air quality monitoring programme and discusses some types of monitoring.

  • Chapter 3 provides information on the contaminants included in the NES for air quality and the AAQG and explains the difference between a standard and a guideline. It also briefly discusses meteorological monitoring.

  • Chapter 4 discusses the different methodologies used in monitoring air quality. It lists the required methods for compliance monitoring and the recommended methods for monitoring AAQG contaminants.

  • Chapter 5 focuses on particulate monitoring. It describes the different particle size fractions and the most common particle monitoring methods used in New Zealand.

  • Chapter 6 contains guidance on the siting of monitoring stations based on the latest Australian / New Zealand standard (AS/NZS 3580.1.1:2007).

  • Chapter 7 discusses equipment calibration and maintenance procedures and provides recommendations on proper documentation.

  • Chapter 8 contains guidance on data quality assurance at all stages of data management. Guidance is also provided for data adjustment and dealing with negative and missing data.

  • Chapter 9 provides recommendations on data reporting formats to promote nationally consistent air quality reporting.

1.6 What this Guide doesn’t cover

The Guide aims to provide information and recommendations that are neither too specific nor too general. The scope of this Guide does not include:

  • equipment-specific guidance – readers are advised to consult the user’s manual or contact the equipment vendor for detailed information

  • information on monitoring methods already covered by an Australian / New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS), or other relevant standard – readers are advised to refer to the relevant standard

  • emissions testing for individual source discharges – information about compliance monitoring and emission testing can be found in the Ministry’s Compliance Monitoring and Emissions Testing of Discharges to Air (1998)

  • monitoring odour – information on this can be found in the Ministry’s Good Practice Guide for Assessing and Managing Odour in New Zealand (2003).

Figure 1.1 shows the full suite of the Ministry for the Environment’s air quality good practice guide publications and their applications.

Figure 1.1: Applications of the Ministry for the Environment’s air quality good practice guides

Figure 1.1: Applications of the Ministry for the Environment’s air quality good practice guides

Applications of the Ministry for the Environment’s air quality good practice guides

The figure illustrates the different applications of the Ministry for the Environment’s air quality good practice guides.  This covers guidance on:

Assessing discharges from emission sources

  • Good Practice Guide (GPG) for Assessing Discharges to Air from Industry
  • GPG for Assessing Discharges to Air from Transport.

Air quality monitoring

  • GPG for Air Quality Monitoring and Data Management
  • Compliance Monitoring and Emissions Testing of Discharges to Air
  • GPG for Assessing and Managing the Environmental Effects of Dust Emissions
  • GPG for Assessing and Managing Odour in New Zealand
  • GPG for Monitoring and Management of Visibility in New Zealand.

Preparation of assessment tools

  • GPG for Preparing Emissions Inventories
  • GPG for Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling

 

Photograph sources: Ministry for the Environment, Taranaki District Council and Tasman District Council

  1. Good Practice Guide for Assessing Discharges to Air from Land Transport (2008)
  2. Good Practice Guide for Assessing Discharges to Air from Industry (2008)
  3. Good Practice Guide for Air Quality Monitoring and Data Management 2009 (2009)
  4. Compliance Monitoring and Emission Testing of Discharges to Air (1998)
  5. Good Practice Guide for Assessing and Managing the Environmental Effects of Dust Emissions (2001)
  6. Good Practice Guide for Assessing and Managing Odour in New Zealand (2003)
  7. Good Practice Guide for Monitoring and Management of Visibility in New Zealand (2001)
  8. Good Practice Guide for Preparing Emissions Inventories (2001)
  9. Good Practice Guide for Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling (2004)