November 22, 2004

PEI upgrades air quality monitoring network to provide higher quality data

Prince Edward Island has upgraded its air quality monitoring network to improve the quality of information it provides in support of various monitoring programs. Earlier this month, provincial Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Jamie Ballem unveiled an expanded monitoring station at Southampton. A new building constructed this year accommodates three new pieces of equipment: an acid rain collector; a fine particulate monitor which generates data on a continuous, real-time basis; and a ground-level ozone analyzer.

The Southampton facility is one of three air quality monitoring stations across PEI; the others are in Charlottetown and Wellington. The additional equipment at Southampton, as well as improvements at the Charlottetown and Wellington monitoring stations, will improve the PEI Air Quality Forecast next spring. Last year, older sulfur dioxide and ozone analyzers in Charlottetown were replaced with new equipment which provides more accurate and reliable data. Equipment to monitor fine particulate on a continuous basis was installed this fall, and a new nitrogen oxides analyzer will be added before the end of the year. In Wellington, a continuous fine particulate monitor and nitrogen oxides analyzer will be installed next summer.

PEI's three stations are part of Canada's National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) program, operated by the federal government in co-operation with the provinces and territories to collect and distribute air quality data throughout the country. The information collected at the monitoring stations is used to produce Environment Canada's PEI Air Quality Forecast (formerly known as the Smog Forecast). It is also provided to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which generates real-time maps of ozone and fine particulate for the New England states and eastern Canada.

As the next step, Ballem said the data from the three monitoring stations will be used to produce an Air Quality Index (AQI) for the province; this will be made available on the PEI web site.

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