Air quality and discharges to air are regulated under the RMA framework - this page includes updates on national-level policy and regulations for air discharges.


  • The National Environmental Standard for Air Quality sets out a minimum level for the purpose of health protection for PM10 , carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone. The NESAQ is implemented by Councils.
  • Regional plans include rules that manage air discharges also - activities including outdoor burning, boilers or other fuel burners, agrichemical spraying. Click here for regional policy updates.


The NESAQ has been in place since 2004 and contains standards for the purpose of setting a minimum level of health protection. The NESAQ:

  • includes ambient air quality standards for PM10 (particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter), carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone
  • prohibits activities that discharge significant quantities of dioxins and other toxins into the air
  • specifies standards for domestic wood burners.
Proposed changes to the NESAQ 

HortNZ made a submission on proposed changes to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ).

The proposed changes mostly affect the management of activities involving burning. It is being updated to include management of PM2.5 (to reflect better science about health impacts of fine particulates) and meet New Zealand’s commitments under the Minamata Convention on Mercury (which entered into force in August 2017).

 Read HortNZ's submission here

A new, updated version of the Standard - NZS 8409: 2021 - is now available on Standards New Zealand's website.

These national standards set good management practice for the transportation, storage, supply and use of agrichemicals. They are often referred to in (or applied directly by) regional council air quality regulations.

The previous version, New Zealand Standard NZS8409:2004 Management of Agrichemicals is an approved code of practice under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. In 2021/21, the Standards Development Committee are undertook a review of NZS8409:2004.