Myth Busting: Dare to Compare the Air

Downtown Fort McMurray - Courtesy of Gord McKenna

Downtown - courtesy of Gord McKenna

Once in a while, I’ll have someone assume that the air quality in Fort McMurray is terrible, due to the fact that we’re a resource-based town… so I quickly ask them to show me the data from their local air-monitoring stations so we can take a look at their own, home-grown air quality. I usually get a blank stare back. “Um, what? Maybe we could check the paper?”

Wood Buffalo Environmental Association

You see, whenever we want to see how our air is, we can go to the WBEA (Wood Buffalo Environmental Association) and check out what the nearest monitoring station has to say for itself. So for instance, as of 3:00 p.m. today, station #6 up in Timberlea was showing this data:

Parameter Hourly Average Guideline
SO2 1.00 ppb 172 ppb
TRS 0.15 ppb 10 ppb
NO 0.59 ppb
NO2 0.23 ppb 212 ppb
NOX 0.75 ppb
THC 2.33 ppm
O3 43.31 ppb 82 ppb
NH3 0.00 ppm 2 ppm
PM2.5 -0.50 ug/m3
Temp @ 2m 11.13 deg. C
Wind Speed @ 10m 13.06 km/h
Wind Dir. @ 10m 282.20 deg.

Air Quality Index

Now I’m not pretending to understand what that all means, but the “Air Quality Index” rating of 22 from that station shows me that the air it’s reporting fits into the highest rating possible of “Good” (a score of 1 to 25). And it changes every hour. Try that with your newspaper.

If I compare the average data, let’s take the really tiny particles in the air (Particulate Matter – PM2.5), of station #6 to some other stations around the province, I can see that we’re lower than all of the Calgary and Edmonton stations – and that’s just pointing out a few. In fact, that’s about as good as Genesee or Lethbridge. Check out the WBEA’s How Does Our Air Compare section if you don’t believe me.

Anyway, just one more thing you now know about Fort McMurray. If you keep coming back to read this blog, can you imagine what you’ll know in a year?

Advertisements

Comments are closed.