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 is of concern when pollutants reach high enough concentrations to endanger human health and/or the environment.
Which air pollutants are measured at the Port?
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. However, PM 2.5, particles that are 2.5 microns or smaller, are most concerning.
The Prince Rupert Port Authority measures ambient levels of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), nitrogen oxides (NOX, NO2, NO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and tropospheric ozone (O3).
PM2.5 and PM10 refer to airborne particulate matter that is 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller and 10 microns or smaller, respectively. Particulate matter is naturally occurring in the air (e.g. weathering of earth materials, smoke) but concentrations can be elevated by human activity (e.g. road dust, diesel emissions).
NO and NO2 are commonly referred to together as NOX. NOX is produced when nitrogen and oxygen react in the air at high temperatures, such as combustion in vehicle engines, or lightning. NOX can further react in the air to form smog and acid rain.
SO2 is introduced to the atmosphere by human activity via burning of sulfur-containing fuels, or by natural sources such as volcanoes. SO2 can contribute to particulate matter pollution and acid rain.
O3 is naturally occurring in the troposphere, but at high levels it has adverse effects. It is mainly formed via reaction with other gases including NOX, and causes smog.
How is air quality monitored?
Measurement and monitoring of air quality parameters is a vital tool in the management of air quality. PRPA currently monitors air quality, real-time, at two stations: Westview (PM2.5, PM10, NOX), and Fairview (PM2.5, PM10, NOX, SO2, O3).
To view the readings from the air monitoring station at Fairview, click here.
What determines poor air quality?
The British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has established air quality objectives. The Prince Rupert Port Authority measures itself against these objectives. Visit here to view.