April 30, 2007

Annual survey shows air quality compliance in New Brunswick surpasses 99%

Compliance with New Brunswick's air quality objectives continued to surpass 99% throughout the province in 2005, Environment Minister Roland Haché reported recently. In releasing the ninth annual Report on Air Quality Monitoring Results in New Brunswick for 2005, he said, "I am pleased with the high level of compliance shown throughout New Brunswick in 2005. The report concludes that long-term trends have continued to show improvement for key air quality indicators in our province."

The report summarizes air quality results based on data gathered from a provincewide network of 59 sites in ten monitoring regions during 2005. Acid rain was measured at 13 additional sites. Inhalable particulate matter (PM10), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and mercury in air were also monitored at some locations, although no standards were in effect in New Brunswick for these substances in 2005.

New Brunswick's Clean Air Act sets air quality objectives for carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), nitrogen dioxide (NOX), and total suspended particulates. are set under the. Acid rain, particulate matter (PM10), ground-level ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and mercury are also monitored.

The annual report assesses New Brunswick's air quality in relation to existing air quality standards and objectives, and discusses long-term trend data for representative sites. Among its main findings are the following.

* Compliance with air quality objectives remained above 99% provincewide, with 100% compliance recorded for CO and NOX objectives at all sites (ten sites for NOX and three for CO).

* Compliance with the SO2 objective improved in Saint John in 2005, compared with 2004. Exceedances of the SO2 objectives were lower in Saint John and Grand Lake than in 2004, and very infrequent in other networks. Ozone exceedances occurred on two days, affecting three of 15 stations.

* Air quality in the Miramichi area showed a substantial improvement due to lower levels of sulfur compounds; and

* Long-term trends continue to show improvement for key air quality indicators.

A few elevated values of total reduced sulfur (TRS) occurred in Saint John. TRS values were lower in the Miramichi area than in 2004. For particulate matter, there were no exceedances for PM10 in Saint John. For PM2.5, results at all

monitoring sites were below the Canada-wide Standard. Total VOC concentrations in 2005 were slightly higher at both Forest Hills and Champlain Heights, compared with 2004.

An examination of air quality trends at sites with long records indicates that since the late 1970s and 1980s, air quality has improved for all pollutants currently being measured, with the possible exception of ground level ozone, for

which no clear trend is apparent. Levels of sulfur dioxide, total suspended particulate and PM10 have fallen significantly over the past 15-20 years. Levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide have also generally fallen.

Although acid deposition has generally declined since the early 1990s, acid rain impacts continue to be of concern in the province, particularly in southwestern districts. Sulfate in precipitation, a key indicator of acid rain, was the lowest since 2003.

During 2005, a mobile air quality monitoring vehicle was sited in Lamèque, in the Acadian Peninsula, from June to October, and near St Stephen, from October to December, to investigate conditions in locations not covered by permanent monitoring sites. Notable results included no exceedances of standards at the St Stephen location. At Lamèque, fewer incidents of elevated TRS were seen in comparison with previous years.

Air quality has been monitored in New Brunswick since the 1960s, when several short-term studies were carried out in Saint John. The emphasis on air monitoring has steadily increased over the years.

The full 2005 report may be viewed on-line at www.gnb.ca/0009/0355/0017/index-e.asp

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