Emission Impossible Ltd

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New airshed proposed for Mount Maunganui Industrial Area

Following concerns about air quality and the recently measured breaches of national environmental standards for air quality, BOPRC has proposed a new airshed for the Mount Maunganui industrial area (BOPRC, 2019).

If approved this will be the first airshed in New Zealand gazetted to manage both PM10 and SO2. Currently, there are 71 airsheds gazetted in New Zealand for the purposes of the regulations.* Except Marsden Point, which was gazetted to manage SO2, the remaining 70 airsheds were gazetted to manage PM10.

*Full title: Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Air Quality) Regulations 2004.

NES breaches in Mt Maunganui

You may have missed it but tucked away on BOPRC’s website is some big news from their air quality monitors that were installed in Mount Maunganui at the end of last year. The new monitors have recorded seven breaches of the national environmental standards (NES) for air quality since November 2018.

In November there was one (permitted) exceedance, and in December two breaches, of the 24-hour NES for PM10 (50 µg/m3) recorded at Whareroa Marae (location below).

In January 2019 there was also a breach of the NES for PM10 measured at the De Havilland Way monitoring site. There were a further two breaches in February (De Havilland Way and Rail Yard South) and a breach in March (Rail Yard South).

These breaches of the NES for PM10 all appeared to arise from industrial sites.

In January 2019, four (permitted) exceedances of the lower limit, 1-hour NES for SO2 (350 µg/m3) and one breach of the upper limit (not to be exceeded) 1-hour NES for SO2 (570 µg/m3) were measured at the Rata Street monitoring site.

These short-term, elevated concentrations SO2 all appeared to arise from cruise ships at the Port.


Skrillex’s music could protect against mosquitoes

Dubstep music is a real buzzkill when it comes to the survival behaviors of mosquitoes.

Sound is critical for mosquito feeding and reproduction, researchers working to thwart the world’s most dangerous animal know. But if you really want to mess with their abilities to munch and mate, try blasting Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.” The electronic song’s trademark blend of high and low frequencies disrupts signals between Aedes aegypti, a study published in Acta Tropica reveals.

The “yellow fever mosquito” bit less often and had far less sex—meaning fewer future pests—when researchers cranked the Skrillex.

The findings lay groundwork for “music-based personal protective and control measures.”

Source: BBC News

Health effects of air pollution update

The ISEE and European Respiratory Society have released a joint position statement on the health effects of air pollution and it is really well written! For example:

Particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen oxides show a typical pattern of effects, such as oxidative stress and inflammatory reactions, with consequences similar to those of tobacco smoke. The best-known pollutant is particulate matter. We know from countless experiments and observational studies that particulate matter causes inflammatory reactions in the lungs and entire body, promotes blood clotting, causes cardiac arrhythmia, increases arteriosclerosis and alters lipid metabolism. In addition, particulate matter can penetrate the brain or affect a foetus. Those same biological changes can be seen in active and passive smokers. The same diseases are produced, including heart attacks, strokes, respiratory diseases and lung cancer.

It also has a cool new diagram showing all the ways that air pollution harms the body (yes, you’ll be seeing this one again from us):


Overview of the effects of air pollution on the whole body observed in population-based studies. [Source: Thurston, G.D., et al., (2017). Eur Respir J, 2017. 49(1).]


Importantly, it gives an indication of current thinking on annual NO2 – the annual guideline looks set to halve (yes you read that right – 20 µg/m3) in the current WHO review.

Jayne & Louise speak at Environmental Compliance Conference

In November 2018, both Jayne and Louise took the opportunity to give presentations at the New Zealand Planning Institute Environmental Compliance Conference.

Copper Moki well site near Ngaere, Stratford District.                Photo credit: Sarah Roberts, June 2014.

Louise discussed Land Use & Air Quality (which is way more interesting than it sounds). Her review of “how close is too close?” included some very scary photos underlining the air quality issues arising from incompatible land use activities such as quarries and oil and gas activities being located hard up against residential activities.

Jayne took a more philosophical approach, asking “if an odour occurs in a forest but an enforcement officer is not present to validate it – did it still occur?” Her presentation discussed the problems with validating odour and what this does, and doesn’t mean, with respect to odour complaints. It may have also had a few choice words on the subject of chronic impacts being mistaken as non objectionable but you had to be there to hear those.

Full presentations in links above.

Cruise ship pollution casts dark wake in the Capital

Emissions from a single cruise ship visit in Wellington are the equivalent to over 200,000 extra cars per day, according to air quality and greenhouse gas emissions expert Dr Gerda Kuschel, Director of Emission Impossible Ltd. Dr Kuschel’s calculation, based on other research, found that’s nearly more emissions than all of Wellington’s cars in one day.

University of Otago Senior lecturer Dr Daniel Kingston, who studies hydroclimatology and large-scale climate variation, said “The type of fuel their diesel engines use typically results in higher amount of various pollutant gases and ultra-fine particle emissions compared to car engines. Cruise ships are also a source of greenhouse gases.”

Emission Impossible Ltd’s air quality expert Louise Wickham said the health effects depended on emissions exposure. Wickham provided the example of a plume trapped under an inversion layer on a cold still morning, which may drift towards an apartment block. “If there wasn’t enough distance for the plume to disperse, the people could be exposed to elevated levels of pollutants from the combustion of heavy fuel oil.”

PM10 – which is carcinogenic, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide were all part of the picture, she said.  Only Auckland Council has reviewed the air emissions from cruise ships.

A Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) spokesman said it had received no complaints regarding air pollution or water pollution caused by cruise ships. The organisation did have concerns about air pollution, whatever the source, which was why they measured air quality on land.  “However, under the RMA we are excluded from regulating emissions from vessels, which is why we do not focus on marine emissions.”

GWRC had no current plans for research, but would consider being part of any national approach developed to monitor the impact of ship/port emissions on air quality, particularly as they may affect surrounding land.

Shipping has been highlighted by the Ministry for the Environment as an emerging issue.

Dr Bevan Marten from Victoria University’s School of Law said New Zealand had no regulation on air quality from ships. “The old view was that we were too small to do anything, didn’t have any pollution and other countries would take care of it.”

New Zealand Cruise Association chief executive officer Kevin O’Sullivan said he was not aware of any research on cruise ship emissions. “We don’t have the ability to work on these sort of matters, we just listen to what’s going on. We work as a link between the Government and the cruise lines.”

Wellington Harbourmaster Grant Nalder said he didn’t believe cruise ships were any different to any other large ship. “A ship’s engine is a ship’s engine, regardless of what you’re pushing around with it.” Nalder said he was not aware of any research on the emissions in Wellington harbour.

Wreda Regional Development, Destination and Attraction General Manager David Perks said the impact of Wellington’s cruise ship industry was continuing to grow.

The 110 ships coming to Wellington was up 82 from last year. In 2007-2008 just 38 cruise ships came to Wellington. “The regional economy is set to benefit by an estimated $56 million as more than 320,000 passenger and crew arrive over the seven-month cruise season,” Perks said.

“Behind those figures lies the fact that the cruise industry supports Wellington businesses and creates jobs particularly in the tourism, retail and hospitality sectors.”

[Source: Stuff.co.nz, 16th November 2018]

Gerda appointed to the EPA Board

We are pleased to announce that Gerda has been appointed to the Environmental Protection Authority Board. The new board members, along with the new chairperson and deputy were announced earlier this week by Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage

The EPA board is responsible for the EPA’s governance. The EPA makes decisions for and regulates hazardous substances and new organisms as well as specified marine activities in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone. It also provides administrative support for the decision-making on major infrastructure and called in projects under the Resource Management Act and operates the New Zealand Emissions Trading Register under the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Congratulations Gerda!

Read the full media here: Environmental Protection Authority chair and deputy announced

Mysterious rise in banned ozone-destroying chemicals

A sharp and mysterious rise in emissions of a key ozone-destroying chemical has been detected, despite its production being banned around the world. Unless the culprit is found and stopped, the recovery of the ozone layer, which protects life on Earth from damaging UV radiation, could be delayed by a decade. The source of the new emissions has been tracked to east Asia, but finding a more precise location requires further investigation.

CFC chemicals were used in making foams for furniture and buildings, in aerosols and as refrigerants. But they were banned under the global Montreal protocol after the discovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica in the 1980s. Since 2007, there has been essentially zero reported production of CFC-11, the second most damaging of all CFCs.

CFCs used in buildings and appliances before the ban came into force still leak into the air today. The rate of leakage was declining steadily until 2013, when an abrupt slowing of the decline was detected at research stations from Greenland to the South Pole. The rise in CFC-11 was revealed by Stephen Montzka, at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Colorado, and colleagues who monitor chemicals in the atmosphere. “I have been doing this for 27 years and this is the most surprising thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I was just shocked by it.” Scientists then embarked on an investigation, published in the journal Nature, to find out the cause.

Michaela Hegglin, at the University of Reading, UK, and not part of the research team said researchers had taken rigorous steps to rule out alternative explanations for the rise in CFC-11 when reaching their conclusion that new production must be occurring.

She said: “The study highlights that environmental regulations cannot be taken for granted and must be safe-guarded, and that monitoring is required to ensure compliance.” Prof Piers Forster, at the University of Leeds, UK, said: “This new study is atmospheric detective work at its finest.”

[Source: The Guardian]

Pods simulate air quality in five cities

An art installation of five geodesic domes by Michael Pinsky have been set up within London’s Somerset House, with each pod simulating the air quality at a different location from across the globe – namely London, New Delhi, Sao Paolo, Beijing and Tautra (Norway). The installation allows visitors to walk through each pod and experience the air quality at these locations with varying levels of ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide.

The “Pollution Pods” exhibit will be on display at Somerset House from 18th to 25th April.

[Source: Twitter, 19th April 2018]

NZ’s first truck conversion workshop opens

Waste Management NZ has opened the country’s first workshop dedicated to converting diesel trucks in to electric vehicles (EVs). The company plans to convert 20 of its national truck fleet by 2020. The first conversion is almost complete and the truck will be used to collect waste from Auckland Hospital.

The workshop is also open to other companies looking to transform their vehicles into EVs.

Waste Management managing director Tom Nickles says he is delighted to open the workshop in what is a major step forward for the company and electric vehicles in New Zealand.

“Our investment in the EV workshop will create a knowledge centre for EV conversion in New Zealand and will help us move towards our long term goal of a fleet of fully electric vehicles.” Nickles acknowledged their conversion partner, EMOSS, based in the Netherlands who provided the kitsets and knowledge for the team in Auckland to start completing conversions locally.

Waste Management announced its move towards a fleet of electric vehicles in September 2016 as part of its sustainability commitment. Since then the company has launched the Southern Hemisphere’s first sideloader electric truck for residential wheelie bin waste collections, which has started work on Christchurch streets. Another sideloader electric truck will soon be in operation in Auckland. This is in addition to the electric box body truck which started work in Auckland in November 2016.

Waste Management has also added more than 20 electric cars within its light fleet during this time.

[Source: Transporttalk.co.nz, 29 March 2018]