The Hawke's Bay Regional Council is encouraging residents to report "dirty smoke" billowing out of neighbourhood chimneys to the pollution hotline.

Hastings has exceeded the national air quality standards three times this winter compared with seven last year.

Awatoto was the latest area to exceed the national air quality standards in June.

"We can't continue to do this," said Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Rex Graham.


"We are regularly changing our fires over for more efficient ones - that's not without its difficulties, people need to stay warm and they need to burn wood, but they need to do that efficiently."

Graham also directed his message towards horticulturists who were urged to burn their appropriate materials on windy days.

"Neither of these two things are happening fast enough for my liking. All you need to do is drive around and see the haze over Hawke's Bay - you don't need to be a professional scientist to work it out.

"When we have cold still nights and we have a lot of people using fires that are not efficient we have this haze over the Heretaunga plains."

Team Leader Pollution Response & Enforcement Mike Alebardi said from May 1 to August 1 the council had received 49 complaints related to outdoor burning via the pollution hotline

"We have issued 28 infringement fines ($300) for unauthorised outdoor burning within the air shed in the timeframe," he said.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council air quality scientist Dr Kathleen Kozyniak said smoke exceedance could lead to a number of health issues.

"It's linked to cancer, it's linked to respitory problems, cardiovascular problems, there's also association with things like Alzheimer's, obesity, autism - there's a growing list of what it contributes to."

Kozyniak said if there was one exceedance due to calm weather, there would be plenty more in the future.

"The good news is while we've had three exceedances the highest concentration we've been getting is really coming down.

"Back in 2006 we were getting an 24 average concentration of over 100 micrograms per cubic metre - now we're down to the mid 50s and the standard is 50 micrograms per metre cubed."

Despite a smoky haze looming over the region, Heat Smart manager Mark Heaney said a significant number of people had replaced non-compliant wood burners with more efficient ones.

"Consequentially about 87 per cent of the smoke pollution that we see comes from domestic burning," he said.

"The plans we have in place to reduce the amount of pollution include a ban on outdoor burning within the air sheds between the start of May and the end of August which is when we have the coldest weather - it's that cold weather (when it's still) that causes the inversion layer to hang around longer - which is not what we would like."

Heaney said the council had been phasing out non-compliant wood burners over the past three years and many residents still had them in their homes - but would often use heat-pumps-a cleaner and safer option for the environment.

The regional council pollution hotline can be reached on 0800 10 8838.

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