Air Quality

Definition:

Annual average concentration of fine particulate matter, expressed as micrograms per cubic metre.

Methods and Limitations:

Particulate matter is a complex mixture of small airborne liquid and solid particles. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) refers to microscopic particles that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter. PM2.5 comes from natural and human activities and can be emitted directly or formed in the atmosphere.

Inhaled PM2.5 can penetrate deep into the lungs causing irritation and inflammation and can aggravate health conditions such as asthma and heart disease. There is growing evidence that long term exposure to PM2.5 increases the risks of chronic disease and premature mortality.

In British Columbia (BC) major sources of PM2.5 include seasonal wildfires, residential wood combustion, prescribed burning, marine vessels, heavy-duty diesel vehicles, and industrial processes in the mining and pulp and paper sectors.

BC operates a network of 63 air monitoring stations that measure PM2.5 and other air pollutants across the province. There are two monitoring stations in the capital region: Colwood and Victoria.

PM2.5 levels are calculated using two methods: annual and 24-hour metrics. The annual metric is the annual average of the daily concentrations of PM2.5. The 24-hour metric is the annual 98th percentile of the daily concentrations of PM2.5.

The Canadian Ambient Air Quality (CAAQ) Standards for PM2.5 look at the three-year averages of both metrics. The CAAQ standard for the PM2.5 annual metric is 8.8 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) or lower, and for the 24-hour metric it is 27 µg/m3 or lower.

The data presented here are PM2.5 concentrations using the annual metric for two monitoring stations. The data are taken from data summaries in the technical appendices of the annual BC State of the Air Report, published by the BC Lung Foundation. The source of the underlying data for the summaries is the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

In terms of data completeness, a valid day has data for at least 18 hours (75%). A valid year has data for at least 60% of days in each quarter and 75% of hours over an entire year. Where more than one PM2.5 monitor is operating at a single site, data are shown for the monitor currently considered the primary reporting monitor and/or the monitor reporting a complete year of data.

Source(s):

BC Lung Foundation. 2021 BC State of the Air Report – Technical Appendix

https://bclung.ca/sites/default/files/TechnicalAppendix_2021_Final%20%28web%20version%29.pdf

Prior year’s reports and technical appendices available at: https://bclung.ca/health-air-quality

Data is updated on Vital Victoria as it becomes available from the data providers.

Reference(s):

Environmental Reporting BC. 2022. Status of Fine Particulate Matter in BC (2018-2020). State of Environment Reporting, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, British Columbia.

https://www.env.gov.bc.ca/soe/indicators/air/fine-pm.html#metric-info

 
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