Particulate levels cause for concern, group says

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Particulate levels cause for concern, group says

Postby Wilberforce » Thu Dec 17, 2015 3:04 pm

Particulate levels cause for concern, group says
Air-quality monitoring results for November show spike again
December 16, 2015 10:08 A.M.

Elevated levels of airborne particulate over Kamloops last month are further proof that winter inversions produce levels well above provincial health guidelines, says a group opposed to the Ajax Mine.

Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment (KPHE) released air-quality monitoring results Wednesday showing that there was a monthly average of 12.6 micrograms per cubic metre in November. That’s considerably above the provincial average of 8 micrograms per cubic metre.

That spike is consistent with data that the group released a year ago that indicated the month of November, between 1998 and 2014, has the highest monthly average of airborne fine particulate concentrations over the course of the year.

KPHE says the results, particularly for Aberdeen, represent areas of concern that need to be carefully and thoroughly examined. The group includes not only medical doctors, but also allied health professionals, scientists and TRU professors.

Robert Schemenauer, a retired TRU professor and Environment Canada research scientist with a background in atmospheric sciences, said the results represent the first monthly set of data from the Aberdeen monitoring station, situated about one kilometre from the proposed Ajax Mine site.

Since the data is limited at this point, there are not too many conclusions that can be drawn, he said.

“Last year, we wanted to flag it for the community so that they can start to think about what’s going on in the air, how that changes through the year and how emissions affect the levels,” Schemenauer said.

In January, the society intends to follow up, analyzing a year of measurements from the two sites.

Schemenauer said no one has done such an analysis of Kamloops air quality data, so it was important to provide the information.

“In our experience, in the past in Kamloops, nobody has looked at seasonal variations in air quality in the city.”

The elevated levels of potentially hazardous particulate are believed to be related to a combination of weather conditions and slash burning that takes place in the region each fall. Surprisingly, November has higher levels than the colder months of December and January when wood-burning stoves and fireplaces would be a contributing factor.

A new monitor in Aberdeen had a monthly average value of PM2.5 of 6.8 ug/m³ last month. This was lower than at the downtown monitoring station but still well above what would be considered background values in the province. There is a strong positive statistical association between the hourly values of the stations in Aberdeen and downtown, data shows.

The airflow into Kamloops is complex and winter inversions increase levels of pollution deep in the valley.

At the Aberdeen monitoring station, there are periods when the values spike upwards. This may indicate that the site is close to sources of waste wood burning during November in areas near Lac Le Jeune Road. This could be an indicator that any fine particulates produced in the same area by fuel consumption, industrial activity and burning could readily move into upper Aberdeen.

source ... group-says
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