Posted by: Matthew | February 17, 2011

Shocking picture of Masterton

Mostly the cover of darkness hides the true extent of how foul winter air can be in New Zealand towns and cities, with the foulest air between 6 and 10pm, but check this out. This is a photo of a  polluted day in Masterton circa 2009 as has done the rounds on clean air blogs:

Thanks to the National Party’s Nick Smith that will also be a picture of Masterton in 2011, 2016, and probably if we get a string of gutless ministers, 2029. You can’t be morally upright if this is how you make policy:

Nick Smith has even been accused elsewhere of “statistical murder“.



  1. “Statistical murder” is an interesting concept, but the author of the website you link to has no idea what it really means.

    In Europe, current PM2.5 pollution, averaging 16.6 ug/m3 costs Europeans an average of more than a year of life. Not everyone dies prematurely – so to average more than a year per person, a significant proportion of people must die 5 or 10 years before their time.

    The same is true in NZ. Woodsmoke pollution reduces the ability of the lung to fight infection, so you get more colds and flu, as well as more heart attacks, strokes and cancer – all of which can kill you 10 or even more years before your time. Air pollution also increases infant mortality, cutting some lives by over 70 years.

    Heart attacks and strokes are very disabling and, like cancer and respiratory diseases affect the quality of life – “if you can’t breathe, nothing else matters!”

    Even if you value a year of life at a few thousand dollars, the cost of not cleaning up the air is far greater than doing the right thing. So let’s do it! And then, because the targets were arbitrary and don’t mean that the air is “clean” or “safe”, continue to reduce pollution until the health costs of air pollution are no greater than the cost of cleaning up the air.

    Woodsmoke contains the same and similar chemicals as tobacco smoke and is associated with the same health problems – heart and lung diseases, cancers, middle ear infections. The main difference is that the chemicals in woodsmoke are more poisonous. A lab test found woodsmoke caused 30 times more tumours in mice than tobacco smoke.

    If a friend or relative gets a respiratory infection because of air pollution, straining a heart weaken by the inflammation from years of woodsmoke exposure, “statistical murder” will seem real enough. Dying at 65 when you might have lived to 80 is a big deal.

  2. […] air quality met the required standards apart from a few occasions in sheltered valley areas such as Masterton and […]

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