This case study introduces the Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand study (HAPINZ), a project with a set methodology which was commissioned to assess human exposures to a varying range in sources of air pollution and the wide range of health effects that could result in New Zealand populations.
The aim of this study was to assess the viability of their methods through an initial pilot study; in this case Christchurch City, with the objective of refining and improving the methodology throughout the study in anticipation of wider applications.
It was of concern to those in charge of this study that portions of New Zealand’s population are exposed to harmful airborne contaminants in the environment that could be better controlled, with reduced exposure, through changes to management and community policies.
“The aim of this “Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand (HAPiNZ) Study” is to explicitly identify the effects of air pollution, throughout New Zealand, to link these effects to the various sources of air pollution, to examine the costs of the effects, and to formulate cost effective policy options that will lead to real and measurable improvements on the health of New Zealanders.”
This study was jointly funded by the Health Research Council, the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Transport. Support was also received with Environment Canterbury a significant contributor, providing data from air quality monitoring programmes for this pilot study.
This pilot HAPINZ study covered the first phase of longer term project. Development of the HAPINZ methods consisted of inputs from a wide range of experts for various fields including; Air pollution, epidemiology, toxicology, environmental management, economics and public health policy.
As a result this pilot study applies the complex and comprehensive HAPINZ methodology which assesses the many different sources of air pollution. The study method considers five interconnected components: air quality, meterology and emissions analysis, air pollution exposure assessment, health impact assessment, economic impact assessment and preventative policy assessment.
HAPINZ methodology overview
This methodology that was piloted for Chrischurch in 2005 has been further reviewed and updated and is now captured into HAPINZ 2012, MS Excel based, Exposure model.
The results from this pilot study were wide-ranging and detailed, HAPINZ included all major sources, all common air pollutants with all major effects being quantified and their associated economic costs assessed, in addition to this some possible policy options for the pilot study area of Christchurch City were also analysed.
The HAPINZ method broadly confirmed the results of previous studies on the effects of air pollution in Christchurch but will additional detail. The study defined health effects in some portions of the population with the greatest effect and cost being linked to long term exposure to fine particulates from combustion sources. It is also noted that this is not the only air pollutant source that has resultant health effects, the study highlights that other pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide all have quantifiable adverse health effects.
The study notes that some air pollutants have more complex effects that are not so obvious to the public health sector, highlighting that while these effects are possibly less direct there are still economic implications to the exposure of, or incorrect management of these types of air pollution. Sectors of the population are emphasised as more sensitive to air pollutants including; older people, particularly over-65s, infants, particularly under-1s, asthmatics and people with bronchitis, people with other respiratory problems, people with other chronic diseases, such as heart disease.
A key component of this study is the assessment of policy options to address emissions in domestic, industrial and vehicle sectors. A policy example analysis was undertaken for the Domestic policy option that was put forth in the study. The suggested policy change was a ban on the use of open fires combined with no new installations of solid fuel burners in houses where such heating methods are currently not in use. Results of these proposed policy changes included the avoidance of 66 premature deaths although the costs of implementing the domestic heating options are significant.
Annual PM10 exposure map for Christchurch exposure
The format and scope of this HAPINZ pilot report were found to cover the study area in sufficient detail to provide a reasonable assessment of the relationship between airborne emissions and health of local populations including the economic effects. The methodology was such that it was continually evolving with additional detail and data progressively being made available as the study reached completion. Moving forward the study provided a sound starting point that outlines a framework that could be expanded to other regions of New Zealand as well as in wider scales of resolution.
A Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand Study was first carried out in 2007 to comprehensively assess the air pollution health effects in New Zealand.
Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand - Website
Fisher, G. et. al. (2005): Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand - Christchurch Pilot Study. Report Prepared for Health Research Council, Ministry for the Environment, and Ministry of Transport.