Health impacts from other human-made sources

This section presents the health impacts of PM2.5 air pollution from (i) wind-blown dust and (ii) industry in New Zealand in 2016. These results come from the HAPINZ 3.0 study, published in July 2022.

Wind-blown dust refers to crustal matter from sources such as construction, land use, industry and the movement of motor vehicles on roads (eg non-exhaust sources such as brake wear).  Industry refers to factories.  We have not included natural sources of air pollution (such as sea spray and secondary particulate matter).

Over 100 deaths due to air pollution from wind-blown dust in 2016

In 2016, PM2.5 air pollution from wind-blown dust caused an estimated:

  • 106 premature deaths (in people aged 30+ years)
  • 396 hospitalisations, including 225 cardiovascular hospitalisations and 171 respiratory hospitalisations
  • 156,555 restricted activity days (days on which people could not do the things they might otherwise have done if air pollution had not been present).

Air pollution from wind-blown dust also resulted in social costs of $507.6 million in 2016 (Figure 1).  These social costs reflect the cost of 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)

Air pollution from industry contributes comparatively small health burden

In 2016, PM2.5 air pollution from industry caused:

  • 2 premature deaths (in people aged 30+ years)
  • 8 hospitalisations (cardiovascular and respiratory)
  • 2,700 restricted activity days (days on which people could not do the things they might otherwise have done if air pollution had not been present).

Due to limited data, the analysis of industrial sources only included typical PM2.5 concentrations for significant industrial areas in New Zealand.  PM2.5 air pollution from industrial sources in other areas was not able to be assessed.  However, they would be unlikely to have a large influence on PM concentrations at the census area unit (CAU) level.  In addition, industries are regulated by councils, and potential adverse effects from discharges to air are assessed in detail on a case-by-case basis under the Resource Management Act.

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