Our Scotford air monitoring station will be relocated on February 26 to a permanent location on land leased from the Hutterian Brethren Church of Scotford.
The new site is located approximately two kilometres south of Highway 15 on the west side of Range Road 212, approximately 350 metres from where the station has been located for the past six years. This relatively minor move is required to secure a permanent home for the station, which will be known as Scotford South.
“We are very thankful to the Hutterian Brethren Church of Scotford for enabling us to place our station permanently on their land. The new site provides everything we need to continue effective air monitoring in the area,” said Nadine Blaney, FAP’s Executive Director.
The new site will allow us to maintain our understanding of ambient air quality in the area while still monitoring the impact of emissions from nearby industrial facilities on local air quality, she added. The station will continue to meet the same monitoring objectives as the previous site. Alberta Environment and Parks and the Alberta Energy Regulator have no objections to this relocation.
A summary of our 2019 regional air quality monitoring results show that overall, the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) risk to health rating in the region was significantly lower in 2019 when compared to 2018. In 2019, there were 177 hours of high or very high risk ratings. In 2018, the number was 849. The 2018 annual total was largely influenced by poor air quality conditions in August of that year caused by wildfire smoke, predominantly coming from British Columbia.
Seven of FAP’s 10 continuous monitoring stations collect data used to calculate an hourly and forecast AQHI in and around Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. The AQHI describes the level of health risk associated with an index number. The higher the index number, the greater the health risks. The risk levels are further categorized as low, moderate, high or very high. Risk to health increases as the index level rises.
More than half (58%) of the 2019 high and very high risk ratings were caused by wildfire smoke that occurred in late May and early June. The second most frequent cause (25%) of high or very high ratings in 2019 was wintertime temperature inversions.
Overall, the region experienced low risk ratings an average of 94% of the time in 2019, a six percent improvement over 2018. Among FAP’s permanent stations, Lamont County had the most low risk readings at 95.5% of the time, while Fort Saskatchewan had the least amount of low risk readings, at 90.7% of the time.
During 2019, there were 191 occurrences across FAP’s ten monitoring stations where air quality measurements exceeded Alberta’s Ambient Air Quality Objectives. There were various causes for these exceedances, but the majority (60%) were due to high concentrations of Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) caused by wildfire smoke. Exceedances recorded for other substances were attributed to wintertime temperature inversions, summertime smog, local industry or were undetermined.
We’ve posted the details regarding the 2019 air quality monitoring results and an updated five year trend of local AQHI ratings on the Reports page of our website.