Resource Management Act duties
About environmental health and resource management
environmental health is the study of how the natural environment influences human health and disease
the Resource Management Act governs how New Zealand's environment is managed
Public Health Service staff use the Act to promote and protect public health
Public Health Service staff work with local councils and make submissions on council policies, plans and resource consents that could potentially affect public health.
The Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service focus on the following environmental health topics:
Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service staff work with councils, often within the Resource Management Act framework, to address air pollution.
Air pollution from industrial, domestic and vehicle sources can cause acute and chronic conditions and reduced life expectancy. More than 80 per cent of New Zealanders live and work in urban areas where air pollution can be present.
Some district health boards have position statements about home heating methods and the need to improve the thermal efficiency of homes. This is because appliances such as open fires and older wood burners produce a lot of air-polluting emissions.
Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service staff offer advice about contaminated land.
They also work with councils, often within the Resource Management Act framework, to address contaminated land issues.
Land becomes contaminated through the manufacture, use, storage and disposal of hazardous substances. While contamination is usually associated with industrial activities, the use of hazardous substances in agriculture and residential settings also leads to contamination.
People and animals are exposed to contaminants by:
- handling soil
- ingesting soil or eating produce grown on contaminated land
- drinking contaminated ground- or surface water
- inhaling contaminated particles
The health risk associated with contaminated soil will depend on the type of hazardous substance, the exposure route and the length of time a person is exposed.
Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service staff work with councils on environmental noise planning under the Resource Management Act.
Staff also have access to expert advice provided by the Ministry of Health.
Environmental noise is unwanted or undesirable noise that may affect people's health and well-being. Its adverse effects include:
interference with speech communication
disturbance of rest and sleep
psycho-physiological, mental health and performance effects
effects on residential behaviour and annoyance
interference with activities.
Environmental noise in New Zealand is controlled by councils under the Resource Management Act. Council staff respond to noise complaints and undertake noise level measurements.
Nelson Marlborough Health's Public Health Service issues warnings when beaches and rivers are contaminated by faecal micro-organisms and toxic algae.
From November to March, councils test water at popular swimming spots. If the test results exceed the maximum level allowed, they notify the Public Health Service.
If recreational water is contaminated by human or animal faeces, the presence of disease-causing micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses and protozoa) is likely. Freshwater (rivers) may also contain harmful toxic algae (cyanobacteria).
- Search the Land Air Water Aotearoa website for information about the quality of swimming spots in your region
- Microbiological Water Quality Guidelines for Marine and Freshwater Recreational Areas [Ministry for the Environment website]
- New Zealand Guidelines for Cyanobacteria in Recreational Fresh Waters: Interim guidelines [Ministry for the Environment website]
Nelson Marlborough Health's Public Health Service works with regional councils to protect public health under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 and Resource Management Act frameworks.
Councils are responsible for managing regional waste systems. They are also responsible for the re-entry of treated waste or waste by-products into the environment.
The associated public health risks include:
- the escape of landfill gas and leachate
- contamination of rivers and beaches due to sewage effluent
Page last updated: 29/03/2023