Health impacts from domestic fires

This section presents the health impacts of air pollution from domestic fires in New Zealand in 2016. These results come from the HAPINZ 3.0 study, published in July 2022.

‘Domestic fires’ refers to wood and coal fires for home heating in winter. These fires produce fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Almost 1,000 deaths due to air pollution from domestic fires in 2016

In 2016, PM2.5 air pollution from domestic fires caused an estimated:

  • 962 premature deaths (in people aged 30+ years)
  • 3,375 hospitalisations, including 1,940 cardiovascular hospitalisations and 1,435 respiratory hospitalisations
  • 1,255,711 restricted activity days (days on which people could not do the things they might otherwise have done if air pollution had not been present).

If there was no air pollution from domestic fires in New Zealand, then almost 1,000 deaths would have been avoided in 2016.

Domestic fires accounted for almost a third of the total social costs from human-made air pollution

After motor vehicles, domestic fires were the second largest contributor to social costs from human-made air pollution in New Zealand in 2016.

In 2016, the social costs due to air pollution from domestic fires were $4.6 billion (Figure 1).  This represented about 29.4% of the total social costs of human-made air pollution (PM2.5 and NO2 combined) in New Zealand in 2016. 

These social costs reflect the cost of all air pollution impacts to New Zealand - not only in terms of direct costs incurred in the health system, but also due to loss of life, lost quality of life and lost productivity.

Figure 1: Social costs from human made air pollution (NO2 and PM2.5) in New Zealand, by air pollutant and source of air pollution, 2016 ($millions)

Largest health impacts of air pollution from domestic fires were in Auckland and Christchurch

In 2016, the territorial authorities (TAs) with the highest number of premature deaths due to air pollution from domestic fires were Auckland City (149 deaths) and Christchurch City (135 deaths) (Figure 2).

Other TAs with high numbers of premature deaths from air pollution from domestic fires included Invercargill City (36 deaths), Dunedin City (35 deaths), Hastings District (30 deaths) and Timaru District (30 deaths).

Figure 2: Number of premature deaths due to air pollution from domestic fires (among people aged 30+ years), by territorial authority (TA), 2016

 

Note: To view the legend, click the arrows (››) in the map.

To explore more data at the territorial authority level, view the HAPINZ 3.0 dashboard

 

The South Island generally had higher health impacts due to air pollution from domestic fires

Accounting for population size, Waitaki District had the highest rate of premature deaths from air pollution from domestic fires in 2016 (126 deaths per 100,000 people aged 30+ years) (Figure 3).

Other TAs with higher rates of premature deaths due to air pollution from domestic fires included Invercargill City (106 per 100,000), Timaru District (97 per 100,000), and Masterton District (95 per 100,000).

Figure 3: Premature deaths due to air pollution from domestic fires, rate per 100,000 people aged 30+ years, by territorial authority (TA), 2016

 
Note: To view the legend, click the arrows (››) in the map.

To explore more data at the territorial authority level, view the HAPINZ 3.0 dashboard

 

 

 

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