Air Quality Monitoring
What type of air monitoring does PEI do?
The quality of the air in PEI is influenced by two sources; the emissions we generate locally and those that come to us from provinces to the west and from the northeastern United States. To know what the current air quality is and whether there has been any improvement over time, monitoring is conducted continuously at three sites; Wellington, Charlottetown and Southampton. At each location we look at ground-level ozone, nitrogen oxides (NOX) and fine particulate matter, or PM2.5 (particles that have a mean diameter of 2.5 microns or less). In Charlottetown, sulphur dioxide (SO2) is also monitored and in Southampton, mercury and acid precipitation. A map of the locations is available for download.
Why do we monitor for these air contaminants?
Air quality has a direct impact on human health and the environment, and the levels of individual contaminants are important in this regard.
- Ground-level ozone is known to have significant effects on human health, particularly for those with asthma and other respiratory problems. It also damages vegetation and a range of synthetic materials.
- About 95% of PEI’s NOX comes from motor vehicle operation and the burning of heavy fuel oil at industrial facilities. VOCs are generated by a range of activities, including residential wood combustion that accounted for 36% of PEI’s VOCs in 2014.
- Respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema are significant issues in PEI and are negatively impacted by PM2.5 exposure.
- SO2 dissolves in water vapour in the air to form acids (acid rain) and sulphate particles. Both are harmful to people and crops.
- In PEI, the primary sources of mercury, a toxic metal, are municipal waste combustion, heavy fuel oil burning and landfill emissions from buried mercury-containing consumer products.
What type of information is available?
Ground-level ozone, NOX and PM2.5 data gathered at the monitoring stations is provided hourly to Environment and Climate Change Canada who calculate the AQHI (Air Quality Health Index) for Summerside (Wellington), Charlottetown and St. Peters Bay (Southampton). The data is also used to produce annual air quality reports for PEI.
Who can I contact for more information?