Nelson Marlborough Health News and Notices

Elevated arsenic levels in Richmond air


The recent detection of elevated levels of arsenic in Richmond has prompted a reminder to residents that burning painted or treated timber is prohibited.

Nelson Marlborough Health’s Public Health Service has advised that the detrimental health effects of the arsenic levels is likely to be low, but they are still working with the Tasman District Council to determine the full public health implications.

The council says that burning treated or painted timber is not permitted because it releases toxic substances into the air and creates toxic ash.

The presence of arsenic was detected when GNS Science carried out a detailed analysis of the filters used between 2013 and 2015 at the Oxford St monitoring station in Richmond. The analysis, which also took into account meteorological conditions such as wind speed and direction, identified two sources of the arsenic - a seasonal increase from the burning of treated wood in domestic fires and occasional higher concentrations possibly linked with an industrial source in the area.

The average annual arsenic levels identified were nearly four times the national ambient air quality guideline.
Council staff have also identified a possible industrial source, undertaken some sampling, and issued an abatement notice to prevent any future unsafe burning.

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