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Wood Buffalo Environmental Association
Air Quality Monitoring
The Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) monitors the environment of the 68,454 km2 Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in north-eastern Alberta. The Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) is within the municipality, and includes both bitumen mining operations and in situ oil production. The region also encompasses the communities of Fort McMurray, Fort Chipewyan, Fort McKay, Anzac, Janvier and Conklin. WBEA is committed to reporting accurate and timely high quality data from our Air, Terrestrial and Human Exposure Monitoring Programs to ensure regional stakeholders have the information they need to make informed environmental decisions.
WBEA operates two monitoring stations in the city of Fort McMurray, pictured left, and sixteen others throughout the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
WBEA has monitored and reported air quality in northeastern Alberta since 1998. WBEA is one of the eight air sheds in Alberta that report hourly air monitoring data to the provincial Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) www.casahome.org. WBEA has increased partnerships with governments to further enhance our monitoring activities under the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring and the Alberta EnvironmentalMonitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency.
WBEA’s Ambient Air Technical Committee (AATC), composed of representatives from our 38 member organizations, sets the strategic direction for air monitoring in the region. Science advisors provide advice
to the committee on operations and new technologies. The WBEA network of 18 air monitoring stations (AMS) is managed by a team of 15 headquartered at WBEA’s new Field Operations Centre in Fort McMurray. The AATC staff includes a program manager,air quality scientist, two senior air quality specialists and six air quality technicians.
WBEA’s ambient air quality monitoring uses continuous, time-integrated, passive, and specialized measurement techniques. WBEA operates a total of 18 industrial, attribution, community, background or meteorological air monitoring stations.
Mobile and portable monitoring stations provide incident based or short term air quality monitoring.
(Operational Q4 2013)
(Operational Q3 2013)
AMS 8 - Fort Chipewyan
AMS 15 - CNRL HorizonAMS 16 - Albian Muskeg River
AMS 17 - Wapasu AMS 19 - Firebag **
AMS 9 - Barge Landing
AMS 3 - Lower Camp Met TowerAMS 11 - Lower Camp
AMS 12 - Millenium Mine
AMS 18 - Conklin *
AMS 7 - Athabasca Valley
AMS 14 - Anzac
AMS 1-Bertha Ganter-Fort McKay
AMS 13 - Fort McKay SouthAMS 2 - Mildred Lake
AMS 4 - Buffalo ViewpointAMS 5 - Mannix
AMS 6 - Patricia McInnes
Gregoire Lake Estates
** AMS 18 - Operational Q3 2014** AMS 19 - Operational Q2 2014
Map: WBEA’s AATC operates 18 Air Monitoring Stations (AMS) throughout the region.
Photo: Air monitoring station # 7, Fort McMurray.
WBEA’s 18 continuous monitoring stations each measure between 3 and 10 air quality parameters including:
• Carbon Monoxide (CO)
• Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S)
• Total Reduced Sulphur (TRS)
• Ammonia (NH3)
• Nitric Oxide (NO)
• Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
• Nitrogen Oxides (NOX)
• Ozone (O3)
• Particulate Matter (PM2.5
• Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
• Total Hydrocarbons (THC)
• Methane/Non-Methane Hydrocarbons (CH4/NMHC)
All stations continuously measure temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed and direction. Selected stations measure barometric pressure, global radiation, dew point and surface wetness. WBEA operates two tall towers, 90 m and 167 m, where three dimensional data on wind speed and direction, along with temperature and relative humidity are collected and used in regional dispersion monitoring.
All air quality analyzers are remotely controlled and diagnosed. Daily zero/spans and monthly multipoint calibrations are preformed using United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) certified calibration gases and in situ dilution calibration.
A Campbell Scientific CR 3000 data logger at each station scans raw analyzer output every second and stores data in 1 min. (QA data), 5 min., 60 min. and 24 hr. data intervals. WBEA now collects data digitally from select analyzers in the network. Recently air analyzers for several parameters have been upgraded to the latest available technology to improve detection limits.
WBEA uses integrated sampling methods, including canisters, for measurement of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and reduced sulphur compounds (RSCs); PUF/XAD2 sandwich cartridges for 23 species of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH); Federal Referenced Method (FRM) for PM
2.5 and PM
10; and MIC collectors
for precipitation chemistry. WBEA is currently using VOC and PAH standard operating protocols established by Environment Canada and the USEPA. WBEA’s standard operating protocols are posted on our website under the Air Monitoring tab.
Specialized instruments and analyzers are also in operation. Trace (sub parts per billion) NO
x and NH
3 analyzers improve the
Top: A Particulate Matter (PM) sampler.
Middle: Air analyzers in the monitoring stations continuously measure air quality parameters. The data may be viewed at www.wbea.org.
Bottom: Meteorological towers at each air monitoring station continuously measure temperature, humidity, solar radiation, and wind speed and direction.
understanding of photochemical reactions and aerosol formation. Dicot samplers co-measure fine and course particulate matter (PM
2.5 and PM
10-2.5). Dichot filters are then analyzed by XRF and/or
ICP-MS for determination of PM chemical speciation. An ambient ion monitor determines concentrations of NH
and anions and cations of PM2.5
in ambient air. An automated sequential precipitation (rain/snow) sampler measures reference chemistry for major/minor ions and wet-deposited mercury.
Mobile and Portable Air Monitoring
WBEA maintains and operates a mobile monitoring van equipped to measure a suite of air pollutants, wind speed, wind direction and temperature as well as track GPS location. The unit is available to WBEA member companies for private, facility-associated monitoring and can be deployed for public monitoring in areas of special need or interest. The unit is also used for rapid response air monitoring.
WBEA has expanded its capacity to provide short-term air monitoring studies with four portable air monitoring stations that can be deployed to key locations in the region.
Air Quality Monitoring Network Assessment
In 2011, WBEA contracted two specialists who have managed national networks with Environment Canada and the USEPA to conduct an assessment of our air monitoring network. Following meetings with key stakeholders and review of relevant policy documents and plans these experts reported back to members who then prioritized a series of network enhancement activities. A follow-up Particulate Matter (PM) workshop, held in September 2012, defined network enhancements for additional regional PM measurement.
From left to right, the Hon. Peter Kent, Canada’s former Environment Minister, and the Hon. Diana McQueen, then Alberta Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, now Alberta Minister of Energy, tour WBEA’s AMS # 6 with Sanjay Prasad, Air Quality Scientist. Environment Canada’s total gaseous mercury monitor has operated at AMS # 6 since November 2010.
Top: The sampler deck at AMS # 6 holds air analyzers including the automated sequential precipitation sampler, far right.
Bottom: WBEA’s Mobile Monitoring Unit.
WBEA has been adaptive and responsive to stakeholder needs. Our air monitoring capacity has been significantly enhanced in recent years in response to industrial
development, government policies, and growing partnerships.
Located in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) is an independent, multi-stakeholder, community based, not-for-profit association made up of 38 member organizations.
For more information please contact: Wood Buffalo Environmental Association | #100-330 Thickwood Blvd. Fort McMurray, AB. Canada T9K 1Y1(780)-799-4420 | http://www.wbea.org
Reporting Air Quality Data
Raw data from the continuous analyzers are displayed in real-time at www.wbea.org. Additionally, monthly and annual reports containing hourly average corrected data from the continuous analyzers are submitted to the Alberta government to fulfill industry regulatory requirements, as per the Air Monitoring Directive. Data for parameters measured at each station may be found in WBEA’s Annual Reports at http://www.wbea.org/library/annual-reports.
For 2013, the network average of the percent availability for the 84 continuous analyzers was 98.5 %. WBEA maintains an Alberta Ambient Air Quality Objectives (AAAQO) exceedence alarm system which provides stakeholders with immediate notification of air quality events. WBEA and industry members are responding to community concerns about regional odour episodes with increased monitoring.
1-hour percentile andMaximum concentrations
- 2013(no 1-hour objective)
industry stations community stations
maximum99th percentile90th percentile
Maximum 1-hour PM2.5
concentrations and the 99th and 90th percentiles at industry and community stations in 2013.
* Portable monitoring station AMS 101 operated at this location for 1 month in 2013.
Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)
LOW RISK (1-3)
HIGH RISK (7-10)
MODERATE RISK (4-6)
VERY HIGH RISK (10+)
The AQHI is now available for the communities of Anzac, Fort McMurray, Fort McKay and Fort Chipewyan.
The AQHI provides health messages associated with air quality.
Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)
Alberta introduced the Air Quality Health Index or AQHI as a tool to help the public assess the relative health risk presented by a mixture of common air pollutants, in 2011.
Alberta’s AQHI values are calculated using a formula which combines the readings of three air pollutants - PM
O3 and NO
2. Because of Alberta’s energy
based economy, additional pollutants - SO
2S, TRS, and CO - are considered in
the AQHI calculation, but only when their concentrations exceed set thresholds.
Alberta’s AQHI provides health messaging when odour and visibility events occur in a community. Data from five WBEA air monitoring stations contribute to the calculation of the AQHI for five areas within the Wood Buffalo Region. 2013 AQHI data presented in these graphs illustrate the percentage of time recorded for each AQHI risk level at five WBEA stations.
With Member support, WBEA will continue to evolve and expand our air monitoring network to meet the needs of regional stakeholders, bilateral monitoring plans and government requirements.
Fort Chipewyan(AMS 8)
Fort McKay South(AMS 13)
Bertha Ganter -Fort McKay(AMS 1)
Athabasca Valley - Fort McMurray
Low Health RiskModerate Health RiskHigh Health RiskVery High Health Risk