Environment Canterbury has rejected criticism that it is wrongly targeting woodburners in its clean heat programme.
Rheumatologist Peter Moller, who is a member of the Association for Independent Research, told the Canterbury District Health Board last week that the regulations that ECan followed were based on "incomplete science" that all PM10 (particle matter) caused ill health.
Coal smoke and diesel smoke were a significant problem and should be targeted, not woodburners, he said.
According to Mr Moller, smoke from woodburners did not lead to lung problems or bronchial spasms, and could not be blamed for pollution-related deaths in Canterbury.
"The health board should recognise that ... having people in cold homes is much more of a problem" than PM10, he said.
But ECan spokeswoman Kristi Gray said the council relied on the position statement from the Canterbury DHB, which said that 78 per cent of premature deaths each year because of air pollution were associated with smoke from woodburners.
The board acknowledged that a warm home was vital for comfort and good health, and many New Zealand homes tended to be cold with temperatures regularly below World Health standards.
It also acknowledged that clean air was a requirement for health and wellbeing and that urban outdoor air pollution was the eighth biggest risk factor for death in high-income countries.
The DHB said "the considerable international evidence is that air pollution causes excess morbidity and mortality particularly through increases in the incidence of respiratory and cardiovascular illness".
In Timaru, ECan still allows woodburners to be installed, but they must be low-emission models.
A $500 subsidy applies to woodburners and pellet fires approved by ECan for installation in Timaru.
They must produce less than one gram per kilogram of particulate emission, Mrs Gray said.
"It is no longer essential to insulate the home to Wunz [Warm Up New Zealand] standards to get the ECan grant.
"In that case, EECA [Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority] funding is not available, however the homeowner will still qualify for the $500 heating grant," Mrs Gray said.
They may also be eligible for the EECA grant if their house is up to the government-initiated Wunz insulation standard.
EECA and ECan contributions are available towards:
Low emission woodburners approved for installation in Timaru.
Low emission wood pellet fires approved for installation in Timaru.Energy Star accredited heat pumps.Externally flued gas heaters with a four-star or better rating.
Other eligibility criteria include:
The home must be in the Timaru urban rating area.
The home must be in the gazetted Timaru airshed.
The home must be using an open fire or solid fuel burner installed before 2000 as the main form of heating.
Rental properties as well as owner occupied properties, regardless of the income level of the occupants, are eligible, although the offer varies.
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