A successful partnership to ensure continued clean air in the Peace region is being celebrated on this, the 24th annual Clean Air Day.
The Northeast Air Quality Monitoring Project, a partnership between the provincial government, BC Oil and Gas Commission and industry, is about to move into its third and final phase.
Launched in 2012 to address public concerns regarding possible impacts on human health from air emissions related to oil and gas activities, phase three of the project will now use information and data gathered in the previous phases to refine and improve upon the current monitoring and establish a long-term monitoring network in the area.
The first phase of the project entailed portable air-monitoring stations being set up in the local communities of Doig River, Tomslake and Farmington to measure compounds released through oil and gas activity.
While this monitoring continued, the second phase drew on insights from air-quality experts and local people to enhance public outreach and evaluate long-term options for monitoring ambient air in the region. Based on over two years of data collected, the concentration of pollutants was found to be well below levels that would cause concern for human health.
Based on this knowledge, these stations are being relocated to new communities in the Peace, near Rolla, Taylor and Blueberry River. These stations will monitor an expanded set of pollutants, which includes sulphur dioxide, total reduced sulphur, nitrogen oxides, ozone and fine particulate.
Additionally, a core air monitoring station was established in Fort St. John in 2015 to measure nitrogen oxides, ozone, fine particulate and sulphur dioxide. This information provides a regional picture of air quality for the national Air Quality Management System and supports Air Quality Health Index reporting in the community.
By expanding the air quality data collected in the region and expanding the set of pollutants being measured, the Northeast Air Quality Monitoring Project is on track to meet key recommendations in the Ministry of Health’s Human Health Risk Assessment of Oil and Gas Activities in Northeast B.C.
Since the Northeast Air Quality Monitoring Project’s inception, the Province has worked with local governments, First Nations, industry, the general public and other agencies to raise awareness of local air-quality issues and to ensure oil and natural gas policies are developed safely and responsibly.
For more information on air quality in the Northeast, including air-quality data generated by the three portable stations and the core air monitoring station, please visit: http://www.bcairquality.ca/readings/northeast.html
Minister of Environment Mary Polak –
“All British Columbians deserve to breathe clean air and there’s no better time than Clean Air Day to celebrate the strides our government is making to ensure the best possible air quality provincewide. We will continue to work collaboratively in the Northeast and around B.C. to protect public health and the environment from harmful pollutants, while building long-term sustainable air quality monitoring networks.”
Minister of Health Terry Lake –
“Air quality impacts the lives of all British Columbians, and Clean Air Day is a reminder that we all have a part to play. Through the actions government is taking, and small changes we all can make, we can ensure B.C.’s air is clean for generations.”
Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier –
“Residents in Peace River communities have confidence in the air they breathe, thanks to the Northeast Air Monitoring Project. Programs such as this are proof that B.C. continues to be at the forefront of air-quality management and shows the commitment our government has to ensuring both public health and the environment is protected.”
- Clean Air Day started out as a B.C. event in 1992 and has since become a national day.
- Since 2008, the Province has put $2.5 million toward the Provincial Wood Stove Exchange Program, resulting in the purchase of more than 6,600 cleaner burning models.
- The Wood Stove Program is a partnership with the BC Lung Association and has reduced particulate matter emissions by more than 400 tonnes per year, benefitting air quality in the 27 communities and regional districts that have participated.
- The Province is updating the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation (OBSCR) and currently has a policy intentions paper available for public comment until June 30, 2016: http://ow.ly/tTAK300JeoQ
- The intent of the revisions to the OBSCR are to improve air quality in populated areas, simplify burning requirements in remote areas, encourage use of cleaner technologies and to provide flexibility for community wildfire prevention.
- Over the past year, the Ministry of Environment provided $100,000 to support several projects under the BC Clean Air Research Fund (BC CLEAR). For example, one project saw improvements made to the BlueSky Modelling Framework, run by the University of British Columbia, to obtain more accurate smoke dispersion predictions for B.C. and other provinces.
- The BlueSky Wildfire Smoke Forecasting System, combining forest fire information and weather forecasts to provide the location and concentration of smoke up to 48 hours into the future, is up and running with this year’s information.
- The public can visit BlueSky to see hourly forecasts of smoke from wildfires through: www.bcairquality.ca/bluesky
- There are approximately 150 air quality monitoring stations throughout B.C. (both continuous and non-continuous) measuring some combination of air pollutant and/or meteorological data.
Ministry of Environment news: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/ministries/environment-1
For up-to-date information on air quality in British Columbia, please visit: www.bcairquality.ca