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PGAIR report going to council Monday shows air quality improvement

An air quality advisory and a dust advisory has been issued for Prince George. Bill Phillips photo

So how is the air quality in Prince George these days? We’ll find out in detail on Monday.

The Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable (PGAIR) is releasing a new Prince George Air Quality Emissions and Modelling Report. University of Northern British Columbia researchers Dr. Peter Jackson and Brayden Nilsen prepared the report to update the Prince George 2003-2005 air pollutant micro-emission inventory and modelling based on more current data from 2014-2016. Jackson will give a detailed presentation to city council on Monday, February 8.

The study used observed (collected) data from air monitors around the city, as well as model-derived-data (researchers used a modelling system composed of a micro-emissions inventory, a meteorological model, a dispersion model and a custom web-based scenario simulation tool called AirQuest).

Jackson and Nilsen studied a 40km by 40km area covering the city of Prince George, which they broke down into neighbourhoods/areas. The project was completed with the use of four main technological components:

  • Micro Emissions Inventory (MEI)
  • Meteorological model (CALMET) updated to represent 2016 conditions
  • Dispersion model (CALPUFF)
  • Custom web-based scenario simulation tool (AirQuest)

Researchers updated the MEI to represent Prince George’s 2016 emissions and concluded that industrial sector emissions have changed the most since the previous (2005) report:

  • PM5 emissions have decreased by 40 per cent
  • SO2 emissions have decreased by 24 per cent

CALPUFF’s modelled pollution concentrations generally matched observations gathered at monitoring stations. Researchers reported the following:

  • Major PM10 sources include commercial and road dust, and are highest in the spring and summer in the Bowl and at the BCR industrial site.
  • The most dominant PM5 source is heating (wood burning) in the fall and winter, but major sources also include road dust, commercial dust, and industry.
  • The most dominant sources of PM5, in the spring and summer are road and commercial dust.
  • Modelled PM5 averages at the BCR Industrial Site, in the Bowl, and in the Hart tended to exceed the provincial 1-year annual average objective of 8ugm-3.
  • Overall SO2 emissions are usually low. Major sources include industry, on-road mobile, and rail. The highest concentrations occur at BCR Site, in the Hart near the Heavy Industry Site, and in the Bowl.
  • The largest source of NOx emissions is on-road mobile, with little variation between seasons. Concentrations are highest in the Bowl, and at the BCR Site.

PGAIR, the City of Prince George, and Northern Health supported the UNBC study, with in-kind contributions from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy. The results of the study will be valuable to PGAIR as the group looks to the future of air quality improvements through the process of strategic planning for 2021-2026.  The findings will also support policy and decision making at the City of Prince George.

A full presentation by Dr. Jackson will be delivered to City Council on Monday, February 8 at 7 p.m. The presentation will be available for public streaming on the City of Prince George website, and the full report will be available on the PGAIR website following the presentation


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