February 21, 2005

Monitoring report confirms improving trend in NB air quality

Long-term trends for air quality in New Brunswick continue to show improvements throughout the province, Environment and Local Government Minister Brenda Fowlie noted as she released the latest annual report on regulated air emissions.

"I am satisfied that the results in this report show that the average compliance rate for regulated air emissions throughout the province in 2003 was greater than 99%, with only a few sites having compliance rates of less than 95%," she said.

The Report on Air Quality Monitoring Results for 2003 reflects the measurement of contaminants subject to provincial objectives at 53 sites in eight regional monitoring networks. Acid rain was measured at another 13 sites, and inhalable particulate matter (PM10) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were monitored at some sites as well, although there were no standards for these substances in effect in New Brunwsick in 2003. The report also presents and discusses long-term trend data for representative sites.

New Brunswick's air quality regulation under the Clean Air Act sets out objectives for carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and total suspended particulates (TSP). Some of the highlights of the 2003 report are as follows.

*More third-party monitoring sites were audited in 2003 than in 2002, with compliance found to be generally good.

* SO2 levels in Saint John increased in comparison to 2002, with some notably high SO2 levels recorded at the new Paper Mill Pond site. These SO2 episodes were the subject of an official investigation by the Department of Environment and Local Government, which led to the levying of administrative penalty on Irving Refinery for exceeding the SO2 limits for Saint John County.

*VOC) levels in Saint John were also up in 2003 compared with 2002.

*There were no exceedances of provincial objectives for NO2 or CO at any of the monitoring sites (nine for NO2 and three for CO). Ozone exceedances were similar to those in 2002, and there were fewer incidents of elevated TRS levels in Saint John in 2003 than in 2002. There were no exceedances for PM10 in Saint John, although there were more days during 2003 than 2002 in which PM2.5 exceeded the Canada-Wide Standard.

Acid rain continued to show a downward, although its impacts are still of concern in New Brunswick, especially in the southwestern part of the province. Sulfate, a key indicator of acid raid, continued to decline in 2003 and was at its lowest level province-wide since 1986, says the report.

Similar downward trends have been observed for all other pollutants currently being measured, with the possible exception of ground-level ozone, for which no clear trend is apparent. The report notes that levels of SO2, TSP and PM10 have fallen significantly over the past 15 to 20 years, while CO and NO2 levels have generally declined as well.

The 2003 air quality monitoring report may be viewed on the Environment and Local Government Web site, www.gnb.ca/0009/0355/0015/index-e.asp.

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