Passive Air Monitoring
The PAMZ Air Quality Monitoring (AQM) Program uses an extensive network of passive monitors to collect air quality data over a large region (42,000 square kilometres). Passive samplers are simple, accurate, detect low sample amounts and are less expensive than continuous monitors. No power is required so they are good for remote locations.
The resulting database is suitable for the identification of long term air quality trends and assessing spatial variability, a typical approach in making regional-scale air quality assessments.
Passive samplers rely on the principles of permeation and diffusion to physically uptake the specific compound being sampled. This method is an alternative to active sampling or continuous monitoring where an air sample is drawn or forced mechanically into or through a collection device or past a detector.
The pollutants currently monitored are sulphur dioxide (SO2), a surrogate for oil and gas activity, specifically the processing of sour gas and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) a surrogate for a wide range of anthropogenic activities that involve high temperature combustion.
Continuous Air Monitoring
The PAMZ continuous monitoring program monitors a wide range of anthropogenic and natural emissions. These include: sulphur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), total reduced sulphur compounds (TRS), oxides of nitrogen (NOX), ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), methane, non-methane and total hydrocarbons (CH4, NMHC, THC) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The analyzers and instrumentation used are consistent with other air quality zones in Alberta and fulfill all the specification requirements of The Alberta Air Monitoring Directive.
PAMZ analyzers are capable of detecting low level concentrations of compounds that may be associated with chronic human and livestock health disorders as well as the higher levels associated with the health concerns resulting from acute exposures. Intensive QA/QC programs stemming from monitoring and data management permit detection of subtle changes and trends in data. This allows assessment of the impacts of various emission-producing operations within the zone.
The continuous monitoring program collects data at four continuous monitoring stations:
- One permanently fixed station approximately 16 kilometres south-southeast of the town of Caroline;
- Two permanently fixed stations located in the City of Red Deer. The first is located along Riverside Drive near Three Mile Bend, and the is located at the Lancaster Reservoir in the city’s southeast;
- One continuous portable station used primarily to gather data to address regional air quality issues and geographic data gaps.
The criteria used to locate the portable monitoring station vary. The selection of the locations for issues response monitoring is based on recommendations from the PAMZ Issues Response Group. The Issues Response Group receives this input through its annual public meeting and through stakeholder input received at regular Board meetings. The selection of the sites associated with geographic data gaps is made by the Technical Working Group based on a review of gaps that need to be addressed by the monitoring program.