National environmental standards for air quality

The standards set a guaranteed minimum level of health protection for people living in New Zealand.

Official title

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Air Quality) Regulations 2004

Lead agency

MfE

In force from

  • 8 October 2004 

It was amended following an evaluation and public consultation process over 2009 – 2011.

The amended NES came into effect on 1 June 2011.

Current proposed amendments

In 2020, the Government proposed amendments to some provisions of the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NES). Consultation on the proposed amendments was held from February to July 2020.

The aim of these amendments is to better control the release of fine particles into our air. The proposed amendments also include controls on mercury emissions. These would help us meet our obligations under the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Timeframes for the proposed amendments to the National environmental standards for air quality are subject to the release of new evidence. This includes the updates to the World Health Organisation guidelines and the Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand study. These are expected to be released mid-late 2021.

Read the proposal

Read the summary of submissions

Find out more about the consultation

What they cover

The NES are made up of 14 separate but interlinked standards including:

  • seven standards banning activities that discharge significant quantities of dioxins and other toxics into the air
  • five standards for ambient (outdoor) air quality
  • a design standard for new wood burners installed in urban areas
  • a requirement for landfills over 1 million tonnes of refuse to collect greenhouse gas emissions.

Requirements for councils

Regional councils and unitary authorities are responsible for managing air quality under the Resource Management Act. They are required to monitor areas where air quality is likely or known to exceed the standards.

What you need to refer to

Public notice - access to material incorporated by reference

  • The Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Air Quality) Regulations 2004 incorporate the following material by reference:
  • United States Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40 – protection of Environment, Volume 2, part 50, Appendix J – Reference method for the determination of particulate matter as PM10 in the atmosphere
  • Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4013:2014, Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Method for determination of flue gas emissions
  • Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4012:2014, Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Method for determination of power output and efficiency
  • Australian Standard AS 3580.7.1:1992, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of carbon monoxide-Direct-reading instrumental method
  • Australian Standard AS 3580.5.1:1993, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of oxides of nitrogen–Chemiluminescence method
  • Australian Standard AS 3580.6.1:1990, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of ozone-Direct-reading instrumental method
  • Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 3580.9.6:2003, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of suspended particulate matter–PM10 high volume sampler with size-selective inlet-Gravimetric method
  • Australian Standard AS 3580.9.8:2008, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of suspended particulate matter–PM10 continuous direct mass method using a tapered element oscillating microbalance analyser
  • Australian Standard AS 3580.9.11:2008, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of suspended particulate matter – PM10 beta attenuation monitors
  • Australian Standard AS 3580.4.1:2008, Methods for sampling and analysis of ambient air–Determination of sulphur dioxide–Direct-reading instrumental method

This incorporated material can be inspected by appointment free of charge at the Ministry for the Environment’s head office:

Environment House

23 Kate Sheppard Place

Thorndon

Wellington 6011

New Zealand

To make an appointment to inspect the incorporated material, please contact the Ministry for the Environment on:

Email: infocentre@mfe.govt.nz

Phone: (04) 439 7537

Photocopying incorporated material is not permitted.

Alternatively the incorporated material may be purchased from:

Standards New Zealand

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Level 2, 15 Stout Street

Wellington 6011

Freephone 0800 782 632

Email: enquiries@standards.govt.nz

Website: http://www.standards.govt.nz

Guidance for implementing