Monitoring Air Quality in Northeastern B.C.

three moveable ambient air quality trailers

Demand for air quality information in northeastern B.C. is rising due to public concern about possible impacts from oil and gas activity on human health and the environment. To help meet this demand, the North East Air Monitoring Project was announced in June 2012 as a partnership between the provincial government, the BC Oil and Gas Commission and the oil and gas industry operating in the northeast.

Monitoring Stations

Though air quality monitoring in northeastern B.C. began in the 1990s, the primary purpose of the current project was to add three new Ministry of Environment (MOE) air quality monitoring stations to the existing network of eight stations that are currently operated by MOE or private industry. A science-based approach was used to identify areas where these new monitors were needed. Ten potential monitoring sites were then visited by MOE staff in April 2013 to choose the final locations of the three stations.

Installation of the three new stations took place in December 2013 and January 2014. Each station contains instruments that measure concentrations of sulphur dioxide and total reduced sulfur, both of which are associated with oil and gas development. Attached to each station is a ten metre tower equipped with instruments measuring meteorological parameters including temperature, humidity, wind speed and wind direction. The stations were initially located at Doig River, Farmington Community Hall, and Tomslake. 

2016 Monitoring Station Locations

As pollutant concentrations were found to be very low at these locations, these stations were moved in the summer of 2016 to Blueberry River First Nation (50 km north of Fort St. John), Taylor Lone Wolf Golf Course (just northeast of Taylor Townsite) and Rolla on 213 Road (20 km north of Dawson Creek).

Reporting to the Community

Communication to residents of the south Peace region will be continued and enhanced to ensure that the wider community can access the latest information related to air quality monitoring.

  • Northeast BC Air Quality Assessment report (PDF) - October 2017. This is a report on the analysis of air pollutant data measured between December 2013 and June 2017 during the Northeast Air Quality Monitoring project. This project, announced by the BC government in 2012, was developed to address growing public demand for air quality information in Northeast BC. This demand was related to perceived or real impacts on air quality from oil and gas development that could be affecting human health.
  • Air Quality Characterization of the Peace region of Northeast BC (PDF, 2.8 MB) - July 20 2015. This summarizes the air quality in the Peace region, based on monitored air quality concentrations from 1998-2013 as well as recent pollutant concentrations estimated using air quality dispersion modelling. 
  • Northeast Air Monitoring Project Phase 1 Final Report (PDF) - January 2014. This report outlines the genesis of the project including partnering with stakeholders, the purchasing of new monitoring equipment and reporting to the community.
  • Northeast Air Monitoring Project Report on Initial Network Design (PDF,1.5 MB) - January 2014. This report describes the process of identifying which pollutants to monitor and the process to choose the locations of the three new air quality monitoring stations.

As part of the reporting process, the following four newspaper articles were published in the Alaska Highway News in Fort St. John in June and July 2015. These articles provide more details on the Northeast BC air quality monitoring project. They were written by Dr. Judi Krzyzanowski, a specialist in air quality issues in the Peace region.

Photo Caption:

The three moveable ambient air quality trailers installed by the Ministry of Environment in northeast BC as part of the Northeast BC Air Quality Monitoring Project.  As part of the Northeast BC Air Quality Monitoring project, the Ministry has been using these moveable trailers to monitor air quality in Fort St. John,  Farmington, Doig River, Tomslake, Taylor Lone Wolf and Rolla since 2013.