The Ministry of the Environment has released a summary report on air quality trends in Prince George. It includes analysis of the levels of various air pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, ozone and particulate matter. The data covers 12 years, from 1998 until the end of 2014.
The report was prepared for the Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable and the numbers are a bit of a mixed bag.
“We are generally seeing decreasing trends in pollutants of various types, which is good,” says Ministry Air Quality Meteorologist Gavin King. “That’s what we want to see is those numbers coming down. We’re also seeing decreases in the number of days or hours that are targeted as our provincial objectives for those pollutants.”
The summer months between July and September see the highest number of poor air quality days. November and February are also poor performers in terms of clean air.
While the trends are headed in the right direction, there are improvements still to be made.
“Just because we’re seeing things come down doesn’t mean it’s where we’d like them to be yet. There’s always improvement that can be made over time. It’s difficult with anything like this to give a clear, simple answer because different things can affect our monitoring results as the years go on.”
King says fires, including wildfires and slash burning, drastically influence the amount of particulates in the air. Industry, transportation and woodstoves are other big contributors to air pollution in the Prince George area. While it can be tough, King says it’s important that communities continue to try to reduce air pollution.
“It can have either serious health impacts of just be annoying for people in the community, having to breathe dust or having to breathe bad odours. So it is definitely something that communities should continue to think about and to continue to look for ways to improve.”
And Prince George is doing just that. King applauded the city for taking early action to clear winter traction materials from the roads.
The report will be reviewed by the PG Air Improvement Roundtable, according to King, who will work with their partners and the municipality to determine what the next steps for the community should be.
You can read the full report here.