Air Quality

Air Quality

Identify, target and manage air pollution issues.

GNS Science air particulate matter (APM) research helps improves air quality and health outcomes in New Zealand. We aim to identify where air particulate pollution is coming from, so regional councils can work out ways to stop it. Our science supports better air quality monitoring, management and reduction.

Since 1998 GNS Science has analysed over 40,000 air samples collected from monitoring stations across New Zealand and around the world. GNS Science is the New Zealand representative on the International Atomic Energy Agencies (IAEA) Regional Cooperation Agreement air monitoring programme for Australasia and South East Asia.

Air Pollution – a serious threat to human health

Masterton air

Air pollution sources include vehicle and industry activities, as well as natural sources such as sea salt, pollen, and dust, which are all hazardous to human health. Smaller air particles, such as PM10 (particles less than 10 microns in size), can reach the lower regions of the respiratory tractor and cause inflammatory responses of the body and damage to lung tissue, therefore triggering a range of health issues and premature death. In New Zealand, over 1,100 cases of premature mortality are associated with man-made air pollution, and the total social costs of air pollution from man-made sources are estimated to be $4.28 billion per year.

Our focus is to understand natural and man-made pollution by pin-pointing where it comes from, which is the first step to manage and reduce man-made pollution.

What we do - tracing air pollution sources

Identify exact sources of PM10 and PM2.5. in your region

At GNS Science, our team of scientists aim to identify man-made and natural sources that contribute to air pollution. We provide expert analysis of air particulate matter, worldwide service in the following areas. Find out more

  • Air Sampling - flexible measurements using the Streaker, ASP and GENT samplers.
  • Ion Beam Analysis - Air particulate matter elemental composition and concentrations measurement, unique national ion beam facility and refined techniques for semi-automated analysis of air filters
  • Source Apportionment - tracking down PM10 and PM2.5 air pollution sources, and distinguishing natural from man-made sources.
  • Interpretation and advice - supporting immediate and long-term planning.

Project Examples
Better knowledge, better policy, better air

GNS Science has been working closely with regional councils and unitary authorities for many years to determine airborne particle composition using state-of-the-art air filter and data analysis techniques to identify and quantify sources of APM within their polluted airsheds. We also work with overseas government agencies to provide both analytical services and planning advice.

  • Air particulate sources and activity inside school classrooms
    Indoor APM figure thumbnail
    Pilot study was undertaken to investigate the air quality in two primary school classrooms (ages 5 –9) over a three-week period, during August 2013. PM10was monitored andsampled (hourly, 24/7) in two classrooms and outside of the Palmerston North School, New Zealand.
  • Arsenic concentration in air
    Arsenic thumb
    Air monitoring work by GNS Science has found that atmospheric concentrations of arsenic, a known carcinogen, are above national and international guidelines in a number of New Zealand urban centres.

More project examples

GNS Science air particulate matter research publications


Joe Manning, Head of Department
Phone: +64 4 1234567 Mobile: +64 21 123456

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