Clearing the Air in Central Alberta

The Alberta government is releasing a plan to help improve ambient air quality in the Red Deer region.

Between 2009 and 2013, ambient air quality in the region exceeded Canadian standards for fine particulate matter. The plan will help bring ambient air quality in compliance with national standards.

“Our government is committed to reducing the amount of air pollution across the province and we are taking steps that will improve air quality which is vital to the health of all Albertans.”

Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

Amongst the major sources of air pollution is burning coal. It is harmful to our health and costs Albertans hundreds of millions in additional health care costs and lost productivity. Under Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan, all coal pollution in the province will be phased out by 2030.

“The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment celebrates these actions to reduce air pollution’s health effects in the central Alberta region. In particular the ongoing phase out of coal-fired electricity will do much do decrease the impact on Albertan’s health.”

Dr. Joe Vipond, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

“The Alberta government’s commitment to the elimination of coal fired electricity generation is a positive step to improving air quality for all Albertans. This is particularly true for those with asthma and other respiratory diseases, who will now be able to breathe well and live healthy active lives.”

Noah Farber, Director of Public Affairs, Asthma Society of Canada

Decisive steps are also being taken to improve air quality in central Alberta. The response action plan is multi-layered, involving work developed and implemented by area stakeholders, as well as a broader provincial plan that builds on and complements local efforts.

The region’s stakeholders have committed to taking swift action to bring emission levels down, and to publicly report on their actions.

For example, the Parkland Airshed Management Zone (PAMZ) will continue to monitor ambient air quality and work with local stakeholders to better understand the issue.

To help with this, the province is providing a $250,000 grant to the PAMZ to strengthen efforts to identify the different sources of pollution.

“PAMZ is pleased to receive this significant additional funding from the Government of Alberta today. These funds will go a long way in strengthening efforts already underway to identify the contributing sources of high fine particulate matter levels in our airshed.”

Kevin Warren, Executive Director, Parkland Airshed Management Zone

In addition to a new air monitoring station in Red Deer, $560,000 will be provided to refine monitoring in the area. Specifically, this will provide for more detailed particulate matter monitoring for Central Alberta which will result in a more precise identification of pollution sources.

Provincially, government will undertake a number of actions to address both industrial emissions and non-point sources such as transportation. Improving the understanding of the contributing factors, as well as best practices for responses are also part of this effort.

At the same time, the Alberta Motor Association and other partners will focus on developing an educational component for motorists.

“AMA has long encouraged motorists to drive efficiently and regularly maintain their vehicles to reduce their impact on the environment. We look forward to working with our partners in government to help promote specific actions motorists can take to further improve air quality and to ensure a healthy environment for all Albertans.”

Jeff Kasbrick, Vice President, Government & Stakeholder Relations, Alberta Motor Association

The exceedances of national standards should not be confused with the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI). The AQHI is a real-time measure of all pollutants in the air, no matter the source – caused by people or not (e.g., forest fires). The national standards look at air quality effects from manmade emission sources, such as industry, vehicles, homes, and businesses.