South Alive Project

Air Quality

Community Air Watch


South Alive Project

Air Quality

Community Air Watch


The first phase of this community project in 2020/21 was to learn more about the effect of indoor and outdoor air quality on householders and during the second phase in Winter 2023 new technology was used to measure outdoor air infiltration and air cleaners were trialed in households.

What Have We Done?

  • In 2020 partnered with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) for an air quality monitoring pilot project. The aim of the project was to find out whether polluted air from either indoor and outdoor source (such as smoke from heating) were penetrating households, and if the indoor air could be potentially improved. A volunteer and staff member from South Alive connected with interested participants and installed the air quality monitors in their homes. NIWA monitored and analysed the data.

  • A further Community Air Watch Project was undertaken in winter 2021 canvassing the air quality in 36 homes in Invercargill. Householders were given small, silent indoor air quality monitors installed in their house for 3 weeks which measured carbon dioxide levels, temperature, humidity levels and particle matter, as well as outdoor monitors for outside their homes.

  • “My rented concrete block flat is rather cold and damp with little insulation. I was surprised by the monitor result which showed spikes in particle matter and carbon dioxide levels were much higher than other homes. The information (from the monitor) would be a starting point to help me understand the condition of the flat and whether changes are needed to heating and ventilation. I could share this data with my property manager to address the issues with my flat”

    MJ, South Invercargill participant

  • Fast forward to Winter 2023 NIWA again worked alongside South Alive with 6 South Invercargill households from the previous study and used the Smart Home Air Quality System measuring the outdoor air infiltration in homes. Portable Air Cleaners were also trialed in the participant’s homes.

    “The Portable Air Cleaner was so good, it left you knowing you wanted one (for your home)”

    CD, South Invercargill participant.

What Have We Learnt?

  • Key findings:

    • There is very clear evidence the wind pushes polluted air around the city (in the winter months) and most often to the South. This relates to the natural geography of the city and therefore the South is “unlucky side of town”.
    • Poor air quality can temporarily occur anywhere in Invercargill but most likely in South Invercargill
    • Polluted air from outdoor infiltrated into all 6 homes (Winter 2023)
    • Portable air cleaners reduced indoor particle matter by 55-87% in the room in which it was placed and smaller improvements in other rooms.
    • Portable air cleaners come with the issues of cost of power and noise but generally these are solvable problems, they have the potential to improve symptoms of health conditions.
  • Air quality learnings from the Invercargill study can be found here: