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Rights: The University of Waikato
Published 18 June 2008 Referencing Hub media

Associate Professor Simon Kingham, from the University of Canterbury, talks about the high level of particulate air pollution in Christchurch, which can cause people who are already at risk of respiratory illness to die. People most at risk are the elderly, young people who have respiratory problems, such as asthma and people who have heart conditions or diseases.


Christchurch has... there is a number pieces of research done over a number of years suggests that is has very high levels of mortality associated with particulates. The reason is… is that Christchurch, compared to most other places in New Zealand, has very high levels of particulates. It doesn't have the highest, Nelson probably has higher, we think, Alexandra may have higher, but Christchurch has a lot more people than them. So it’s a combination of the fact that there is over 300,000 people living in Christchurch and the fact that it has high levels of pollution. So it results in a higher level or high number of people probably dying of pollution, getting ill, missing time off work, missing time off school, going to the doctor etc. But what we are saying is, we think there is an 11 percent increase in mortality, I think, as a result of particulate matter in Christchurch. The other thing about it that is interesting is, of course, that a lot of the people who are dying from particulate pollution are probably people who are quite ill anyway. It doesn't tend to kill very young healthy people, it tends to kill people who are at risk anyway, so they are often older people. It also includes younger people whose lungs aren't fully developed. It includes people who have heart conditions, people who have respiratory problems anyway. So it’s hitting people who are already at risk anyway.