Air monitoring: what we look for
Hydrogen sulphide and total reduced sulphur
Oxides of nitrogen
Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Total suspended particulates
Volatile organic compounds
Wind direction and speed
Click here for current analytical methods used.
In Alberta, the fertilizer industry is the main industrial source. The industry produces a synthetic form for direct application as a soil fertilizer, or as raw material in producing other high nitrogen fertilizer products. Commercial feedlots are another main source, from their large volumes of animal waste.
Carbon dioxide is a colourless, odourless, non-toxic gas that is produced by human activities through the combustion of fossil fuels. Some natural sources of CO2 include volcanoes, forest fires and the respiration processes of micro-organisms and plants. About 30% of total CO2 emissions from human sources for Canada are emitted in Alberta. The major CO2 sources in Alberta are power generation, and fuel combustion by industrial, commercial and residential sources. Industrial processes and transportation are also major CO2 emission sources.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas emitted into the atmosphere primarily from incomplete combustion of gasoline, oil and wood. The major source urban locations is motor vehicle exhaust emissions. Minor sources include fireplaces, industry, aircraft and natural gas combustion. Forest fires are an important natural source.
Hydrocarbons are a broad family of chemicals. Methane is the most common hydrocarbon in our atmosphere. Some non-methane hydrocarbons can react with oxides of nitrogen in the presence of sunlight to form ozone. In high concentrations, they can be toxic to humans, animals or vegetation.
Sources include vegetation, vehicle emissions, gasoline marketing and storage tanks, petroleum and chemical industries, dry cleaning, fireplaces, natural gas combustion, and aircraft traffic.
Hydrocarbons are also emitted by fugitive sources such as evaporation of solvents, or leakis at industrial facilities. Incinerator and flare stacks can also be sources.
Hydrocarbon concentrations are highest in winter at monitoring stations located close to major traffic arteries as vehicles are a major source.
Hydrogen sulphide and total reduced sulphur come from industrial fugitive emissions by way of petroleum refineries, tank farms for unrefined petroleum products, natural gas plants, petrochemical plants, oil sands plants, sewage treatment facilities, pulp and paper plants using the Kraft pulping process and animal feedlots. Natural sources include sulphur hot springs, sloughs, swamps and lakes.
Oxides of nitrogen are the sum of nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide. In burning natural gas, coal, oil and gasoline, atmospheric nitrogen may combine with molecular oxygen to form nitric oxide, an ingredient in the brown haze observed near large cities.
Cars, trucks, trains and planes are the major source of oxides of nitrogen in Alberta. Other major sources include oil and gas industries and power plants.
Ozone is also transported to the ground from the ozone rich upper atmosphere by weather and can be carried from upwind urban centres and industrial complexes.
At normal outdoor concentrations, ozone is colourless and odourless gas, but can have a sharp odour at very high concentrations during lightning storms.
Sources include soil dust, road dust, agricultural dust during harvest), forest fire smoke and recreational wood burning, vehicle exhaust emissions, and industrial emissions.
PM2.5 particles are less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, small enough to penetrate the lungs.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are chemicals formed during incomplete combustion of gasoline, diesel, oil, coal, wood, garbage or other organic substances. Tobacco smoke and char broiled meats are common sources. Other outdoor sources include vehicle exhaust emissions, wood smoke from fireplaces, smoke from forest fires and industrial facilities.
Sulphur dioxide is a colourless gas with a pungent odour. In Alberta, natural gas processing plants are responsible for close to half of the emissions of this gas. Oil sands facilities and power plants are also major sources. Other sources include gas plant flares, oil refineries, pulp and paper mills and fertilizer plants.
Total suspended particulates are tiny particles of solid material or liquid aerosols, present in the air. In high concentrations they can become an air pollution concern. Depending on their size and other properties they can remain suspended in the air for a few seconds or indefinitely.
Sources include vehicle exhaust emissions, industrial emission sources, soil, road dust, dust resulting from agriculture, smoke from forest fires, and smoke from campfires and fireplaces.
Photochemical smog is one such reaction, toxic to humans, animals and vegetation.
Major sources: vegetation, automobile emissions, retail and wholesale gasoline outlets and storage tanks, petroleum and chemical industries, dry cleaning, fireplaces, natural gas combustion and aircraft.
Natural sources: forests, grasslands and swamps. These are estimated to be almost six times greater than human sources.
Indoor concentrations are generally higher than outdoor concentrations. Indoors, volatile organic compounds can be released by sources such as furniture, paint, adhesives, solvents, upholstery, draperies, carpeting, spray cans, clothing, construction materials, cleaning compounds, deodorizers, copy machine toners, felt-tip markers and pens and correction fluids.