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2018 Air Quality Monitoring Results + more

Posted on January 7, 2019

Fort Air Partnership (FAP) released its 2018 regional air quality monitoring results today along with multi-year trends showing Exceedances 2011-2018 and the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) for the past five years.

FAP operates seven stations that collect data used to calculate an hourly and forecast AQHI in and around Alberta’s Industrial Heartland.  Overall, the AQHI risk to health rating in the region was significantly higher in 2018 when compared to 2017.  In 2017, there were only 57 hours of high or very high risk readings. In 2018, the number was 849. The 2018 annual total was largely influenced by poor air quality conditions in August caused by wildfire smoke, predominantly coming from British Columbia.

Despite the significant impact of wildfire smoke on air quality readings in August, FAP still recorded low risk readings the majority of the time in 2018. The Lamont County station had the most low risk readings at 91% of the time, while Fort Saskatchewan had the least amount of low risk readings, at 83% of the time. Risk to health increases as the index level rises.

The total number of hours in 2018 that FAP collected AQHI readings increased by 31%. The addition of a portable station in Bon Accord in April, 2018 and a full year of air monitoring at FAP’s Redwater station, which began operating in November, 2017, were the reasons for this increase in monitoring hours.

During 2018, there were 957 occurrences across FAP’s ten monitoring stations where air quality measurements exceeded Alberta’s Ambient Air Quality Objectives. Almost all (97%) of these exceedances were due to high concentrations of Respirable Particulate Matter (PM2.5) caused by wildfire smoke. A small number of PM2.5 exceedances were due to wintertime temperature inversions, grass fires or summertime smog.  Exceedances recorded for other substances were attributed to summertime smog, local industry or wetlands.

High Marks Received in Recent Monitoring Network Performance Audit

Posted on November 5, 2018

The results of a provincial audit conducted of Fort Air Partnership’s (FAP) air monitoring network gives the organization high marks for performance.

Of the 52 analyzers that were audited, three fine particulate matter (PM2.5) analyzers did not meet audit requirements. Follow-up investigation by both FAP and the auditors could not duplicate or determine the cause of the issue, so these three analyzers will be re-audited at a later date.

The audit was conducted by Alberta Environment and Parks. In addition to the analyzer tests, the auditor checked 92 critical items and 56 non-critical items. Only one critical item and five non-critical items were given improvement recommendations.

“These are extremely good results that reinforce to ourselves and the public that we are continuously providing credible, high quality, local ambient air monitoring data,” said Nadine Blaney, FAP’s Executive Director. Blaney noted that the issues identified in the audit did not affect data accuracy. The items listed for improvement were dealt with as soon the audit results were received.

“It’s our policy to address any items identified for improvement as quickly as we can so that the data we produce retains its accuracy, credibility and value to the public, industry, government and researchers.”

Auditing is an important part of FAP’s comprehensive quality assurance program. In addition to these annual audits of the monitoring network, FAP conducts regular internal performance reviews and independent Quality Assurance Plan audits. FAP also performs other quality assurance activities such as challenging continuous gas analyzers with known gas concentrations daily and calibrating them monthly. FAP’s Technical Working Group and air monitoring data analyst also review data quality indicators every month. Read the audit report.