Respirable Particulate and Ground-Level Ozone Sampling Study in the City of Greater Sudbury – Summer of 2009

Study Undertaken for the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and Clean Air Sudbury

By Farrow Associates Research & Project Management And Potvin Air Management Consulting

December 2009

Click to download the full report (.pdf)


There is increasing interest in knowing how current regional air quality forecasting and monitoring programs adequately represent the true air pollution exposure of urban populations. “The majority of air quality monitoring stations in Ontario and Canada are in urban and rural locations removed from sources of air pollution such as major traffic corridors and significant point sources.” Many of these are best described as urban background stations.

In order to gain a better understanding of these programs, in 2007 the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) commissioned a review of current practices in Ontario and in the rest of Canada.

The review included a summary of initiatives used in other national and international jurisdictions, current state-of-the-science for systems designed to predict air quality at street level, and where the science is headed. The review indicated that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) current air quality forecasting and monitoring system, which is similar to the systems used by Environment Canada, the USEPA and many North American cities, provides general information to the public on regional air quality. However this approach does not provide data needed to assess air quality at street level in the urban environment.

The review revealed that some advanced European systems provide near real-time air quality information on both urban background and roadside pollutant levels using data from comprehensive and state-of-the-science ambient air monitoring networks. “For example, in some European cities real-time analyzers are positioned at key traffic intersections and have the ability to control traffic lights based on measured pollutant levels.” These advanced systems more reliably approximate potential human exposures in urban settings.

The August 2009 Air and Waste Management Association publication, EM- The Magazine for Environmental Managers, featured research articles on near-roadway health effects from air pollution and possible ways to mitigate air quality impacts from roadways. “It was indicated that recent studies have confirmed the risk to human health for populations spending significant amounts of time near large roadways.” Research studies also show elevated air pollutant concentrations of gaseous and particulate compounds near roads.

In order to obtain a better understanding of particulate concentrations near street level locations and in other locations not routinely monitored by agencies in North America, the ECO commissioned summer sampling programs in a number of communities and urban centres in the Province.

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