Clean Air Day – Is PG Moving in the Right Direction?
Prince George, B.C. – Air quality in Prince George continues to show improvement though wildfires are posing a challenge.
That from Terry Robert, executive director of PG Air on Clean Air Day today.
“Since we started monitoring air quality in Prince George we’re seeing steady, continual improvement but one of the things we really noticed when we look at the data, is that the impact of wildfires is sure having a strong effect on our annual averages and our exposure levels in the community.”
For example, he says the hot and dry summers of 2010 and 2014 – both hot and dry years – had an impact on Prince George’s air quality portfolio.
However, he says it remains to be seen whether wildfires will keep PG Air from attaining its goal of a 40% reduction in particulate matter compared to 1997 levels by the year 2016.
“We don’t have the fully audited data released from the provincial government yet. We’re anticipating the release of the air quality from the Ministry of Environment any day now and once that report is released we’ll have a look at it and see if we can get a better understanding of the impact of wildfire.
“But when you look at the data that’s unaudited and unreviewed by the provincial government, the raw data and run an analysis on it you can really see the impacts of wildfires and if you actually remove the outliers, to have a look for scenario purposes on those exposure days where wildfires are having an impact we’re really getting close to approaching our community goal.”
But aside from wildfires, he says he’s noticed a “significant improvement” with community awareness through activities like Bike to Work Week, through people’s increased knowledge of backyard burning laws, and even within the private sector and the small business community.
“We’ve been really happy to work with the Chamber of Commerce on their work with local business here and the collaboration with academic institutions to help local businesses reduce their carbon footprint so all of that results in reduced emissions.”
On a larger scale, Robert says provincially permitted emitters are doing their part too.
“They’re constantly looking at additional ways to improve their efficiencies and minimize emissions.”
He says there has also been improvements in dust mitigation through local government measures like the Spring Cleanup though on the private side he says there’s still “a bit of work to do” when it comes to parking lot dust.