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). Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is also monitored in Charlottetown, and mercury and acid precipitation are monitored in Southampton.
The operation of the monitoring is accomplished through a partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada's National Air Pollution Surveillance Program (NAPS).
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;
- 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?
A variety of data and resources are available at the PEI Air Monitoring Data Hub, such as:
- O3, NOX , SO2, and PM2.5 real-time ambient air monitoring data
- AQHI (Air Quality Health Index) - real-time values and forecasts calculated by Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Mercury in ambient air real-time data
- Precipitation monitoring data (pH)
- Air Management Levels for PEI
- Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for PEI
- Wildfire smoke forecast maps (Environment and Climate Change Canada)
- PEI Air Quality Reports