WBEA air monitoring infographic

1. Source

Pollution is emitted into the air from a variety of sources

2. Measure

The WBEA ambient air monitoring stations measure the concentrations of pollutants in the air

3. Share

The information the WBEA collects is available to view and is used to calculate the air quality health index (AQHI)

WBEA’s Ambient Air Monitoring Program

The WBEA has monitored and reported ambient air quality in northeastern Alberta since 1997. As part of its Ambient Air Monitoring Program, the WBEA currently operates 29 ambient air monitoring stations throughout the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB). The WBEA’s air monitoring stations include industrial/compliance, attribution, community, background, and meteorological stations. Additionally, portable monitoring stations provide incident-based or short-term air quality monitoring, where ambient air monitoring is required for less than 12 months per year.

The Ambient Air Monitoring Program functions to address multiple objectives and scientific questions as identified in the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) approvals, the provincial Acid Deposition Management Framework (ADMF), 2009 Alberta Ambient Air Monitoring Strategy, 2019-2024

Alberta Science Strategy, and the Alberta Oil Sands Monitoring (OSM) Program monitoring objectives. For more information on air monitoring objectives and requirements, as they relate to the WBEA, click here.

In addition to providing data live from each station and annual trends, the WBEA reports fully quality-assured hourly ambient air monitoring data to Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (AEPA) on a monthly basis.

The image above demonstrates how the WBEA collects ambient air data through continuous analyzers and time-integrated samplers to ensure residents and stakeholders have the information they need to make informed environmental decisions.

Methods of Ambient
Air Monitoring

The WBEA’s ambient air quality monitoring program is conducted through both continuous and time-integrated (non-continuous) sampling methods. For more information on the pollutants monitored and what is measured at each station in the WBEA network, visit the Monitoring Programs page.

Monitoring Programs

Continuous Monitoring

Continuous ambient air monitoring uses analyzers that continuously measure the concentrations of various pollutants in the air. The measured air quality parameters include SO2, H2S, TRS, O3, NOX, NO, NO2, NH3, CO, CO2, PM2.5, THC, NMHC, and CH4. All WBEA stations also continuously measure temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed and direction. Selected stations measure barometric pressure, global radiation, dew point and surface wetness. The WBEA operates two tall towers, 90 m and 167 m, where three-dimensional data on wind speed and direction, along with temperature and relative humidity are collected and used in regional dispersion monitoring.

Continuous analyzer reference checks to assess proper operation include daily zero/spans and monthly multipoint calibrations. Certified calibration gases and in situ dilution calibration systems are used to carry out all reference checks. The WBEA also employs the use of Primary Reference Materials as the highest reference gas to ensure traceability for all data collected by continuous gas analyzers. A data collection system at each station digitally scans raw analyzer signals every second and stores data in 1 min. (QA data), 5 min., 60 min. and 24 hr. data intervals.

WBEA's Continuous Monitoring Data

Time-Integrated Monitoring

Time-integrated sampling provides more detailed analysis of species present in ambient air, and supplements continuous monitoring which reports a total concentration in real-time. Time-integrated monitoring methods consist of passing a volume of ambient air through various sample media, and then the media is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The WBEA is currently using VOC and PAH standard operating protocols established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

The WBEA uses the following time-integrated sampling methods; silicosteel canisters, for collection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs); PUF/XAD2 sandwich cartridges for collection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH); Federal Referenced Method (FRM) filter-based samplers for collection of PM2.5 and PM10 samples; and N-CON collectors for precipitation samples. Particulate filters are analyzed for mass, metals, and major ions.

WBEA's Time-Integrated Data Tool
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