Long-Term Temporal Trends and Influence of Criteria Pollutants on Regional Air Quality in Fort McKay, Alberta

Warren B. Kindzierski and Md. Aynul Bari


Alberta, Oil sands, Air quality trends, Fort McKay


The objective of this study was to investigate temporal trends of ambient air concentrations with changes in emissions from community and industrial developments in order to get a better understanding of how these development activities actually influence regional air quality. From 1998 to 2010, daily and seasonal patterns of criteria air pollutants were monitored at a community (Fort McKay) within the Athabasca Oil Sands Region of Alberta. A parametric trend detection method using percentiles from frequency distributions of 1 h concentrations for a pollutant during each year was used. Response variables representing 50th, 65th, 80th, 90th, 95th, and 98th percentile concentrations for each year were identified from frequency distributions and used for trend analysis. Small but consistently increasing hourly concentrations were observed for oxides of nitrogen. There was no indication of any change for ozone; a slight decrease for sulphur dioxide at lower percentile concentrations, and a decreasing trend for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) were evident. However, on average, the Fort McKay station experienced about 1 exceedence of the 24 h air quality objective for PM2.5 annually, similar to other community monitoring stations in the region.

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