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Air Quality

Good air quality refers to clean, clear, unpolluted air.  Poor air quality is a result of a number of factors, including emissions from various sources, both natural and “human-caused.”  Poor air quality occurs when pollutants reach high enough concentrations to endanger human health and/or the environment.  Health problems increase when we are exposed to air pollution for a long time (exposure), and when we breathe in a lot of it (concentration).

What is Particulate Matter and why is it important?

Airborne particulate matter refers to tiny solid or liquid particles that are suspended in air.  Particulate matter is all around us and has a wide variety of sources.  Particulate matter that is 10 microns (0.01 millimetres) in diameter or less is called PM10.  Of major concern are the smallest particles that are 2.5 microns or smaller (PM2.5) because they can lodge deep in lungs, and cause respiratory and cardiac problems.

How is Particulate Matter measured?

Measurement and monitoring of particulate levels are important tool in managing air quality and dust.  PRPA measures in the Westview Terminal area through the use of an active monitoring system that draws volumes of air in and measures the concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 in the air.  The readings are continuous and constantly measured (i.e. real-time), and the data is transmitted directly to PRPA.

It is important to note that much particulate matter originates from outside the local area, and can be significantly influenced by short-term events.  Directly attributing a source to particulate is a complex issue, requires longer period of time to establish meaningful levels and involves other monitoring tools such as dustfall sampling, visual inspections and neighbourhood feedback.

What determines poor air quality?

The British Columbia Ministry of Environment has established air quality objectives (www.bcairquality.ca/reports/pdfs/aqotable.pdf) that inform regulatory development and air management efforts.  These objectives have been adopted by PRPA, and are viewed as levels that particulate matter should stay well below.

PM 10: 50 microns per cubic metre, averaged over a 24 hour period.

PM 2.5: 25 microns per cubic metre, averaged over a 24 hour period, and 8 microns per cubic metre, averaged over a one year period.

 

Measurements recorded by the Prince Rupert Port Authority — September 2016

 

PM2.5 (µg/m3)

PM2.5 (µg/m3)

PM10 (µg/m3)

PM10 (µg/m3)

 

60 mins.

24 hrs. rolling

60 mins.

24 hrs. rolling

Min

0.28

0.54

0.14

0.57

Average

2.43

2.37

5.43

5.02

Max

29.75

7.57

27.11

15.56

Provincial Objective

N/A

25

N/A

50

Days over Provincial Objective

N/A

0

N/A

0