Volatile organic compounds from agriculture

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can adversely affect local air quality, by contributing to the formation of ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter which could have potential harmful effects on human health and the environment.

Emissions of VOCs can be from various sources such as industrial or mobile sources or from biogenic sources such as living trees, vegetation, and crops.  There is, however, limited data on agricultural VOC emissions and their impacts to air quality. It was found that biogenic VOCs from agriculture account for approximately 2.7% of the VOCs in the Metro Vancouver (MV) region. A study was completed in 2021 to investigate the relative impact of VOCs from agriculture on air quality in British Columbia’s Lower Fraser Valley.


  • In total, about 48,555 tonnes of VOCs are released annually in MV from human activity, natural sources and agricultural biogenic sources
    • The largest contributing sources include paints and chemical products and other industrial sources, vehicles and transportation, and natural vegetation such as trees and vegetation.
    • Agricultural sources, including cannabis, are estimated to add 1,301 tonnes per year, or 2.7%, of VOCs in the MV region
    • Indoor cannabis represents 146 tonnes per year of VOCs, or 0.3%, in the MV region. With a future growth scenario, the estimate could range up to 346 tonnes per year, or about 0.7%
  • The report shows that at the time of its completion, there was no jurisdiction in Canada that was regulating or licensing VOC emissions from cannabis or other agricultural crops. Other jurisdictions are focusing on cannabis odour control and associated legislation, such as required setbacks, or odour management plans that may minimize impacts


Read the Final Report: