Air pollution in British Columbia

Air pollution in British Columbia

Air pollution is a concern in British Columbia (BC), Canada because of its effects on health and visibility. Air quality is influenced in BC by numerous mountain ranges and valleys, which complicate atmospheric pollution dispersion and can lead to high concentrations of pollutants such as particulate matter from wood smoke (especially during stagnant atmospheric conditions/ inversions).

Air quality in BC

Air quality in much of BC is good compared to many areas of North America. This is particularly true for cities in BC such as the Greater Vancouver area and Victoria, British Columbia.Fact|date=June 2007

Valley communities (e.g. Golden) may experience periods of poor air quality, particularly during stagnant atmospheric conditions. Two communities currently exceed the federal air quality standards; Prince George for particulate matter (PM2.5) and the community of Hope (in the Lower Frase Valley) for ozone. Other communities are close to the PM2.5 standard, such as Quesnel and Kamloops. Communities close to exceeding the standard for ozone include Chiliwack, Langley, Kamloops and others.Fact|date=June 2007

Hourly air quality monitoring results are available for the Lower Fraser Valley [] . Air quality information is available for the rest of the province [] from the Ministry of the Environment

The BC Lung Association produces an annual [ State of the Air Report] for BC. This report is a collaboration between the provincial, federal and regional governments responsible for air quality management in BC.

ources of air pollution

Sources of air pollution sources in British Columbia may be divided between those external to the province, such as transboundary pollution, and those internal to it; and between anthropogenic (man-made) sources and natural sources. External anthropogenic sources include combustion particles and gases from industrial sources in the province of Alberta or the U.S. state of Washington. Mount St. Helens has been a significant external natural source: although located entirely in the United States, its eruption created air pollution in parts of British Columbia.

Exhaust from internal combustion engines (mainly automobiles and trucks, as well as marine vessels in coastal waters) is a major internal anthropogenic source. Other human-caused sources include: Industrial, agricultural (e.g. manure spreading), commercial operations (e.g., dry cleaners and gas stations) and home heating appliances (furnaces, fireplaces).

"Background pollution" occurs in areas not directly affected by pollution sources.

Pollution law

The Canadian Constitution does not clearly specify the level of government that has responsibility for environmental protection in Canada. As such, pollution law in British Columbia is divided among local, regional, provincial, federal and international jurisdictions, each with its own focus and, at times, overlapping concerns. Legislation may be enacted at any of these levels.

Provincial air quality law

Provincial environmental regulation is largely contained in BC's [ Environmental Management Act] , which [ defines] air pollution as follows:: "pollution" means the presence in the environment of substances or contaminants that substantially alter or impair the usefulness of the environment.

Federal air quality law

Federal pollution law is largely embodied in the [ Canadian Environmental Protection Act] (CEPA) and its associated schedules. The act of scheduling a toxin under CEPA starts a [ process] of elimination or virtual elimination from the Canadian environment.

The [ National Pollutant Release Inventory] indexes sources by pollutant and location.

Pollution law governing emissions from marine vessels is complicated; Transport Canada holds primary authority for regulating ship traffic in Canada, while the International Maritime Organization governs global shipping rules (including pollution from marine vessels). Environment Canada and other agencies are working to better understand and address this issue, which is increasingly important due to growing international trade.

Regional and municipal air quality law

Within the province, various Regional Districts and municipalities have enacted laws to control pollution. There are also area-based plans to manage pollution along geographic lines that recognize airsheds instead of political boundaries. This system is especially relevant to BC because of its mountainous topography. The BC Environmental Management Act recognizes airsheds and notes that managers under the Act "may give consideration" to them, but their full legal status is uncertain. Some plans have had a considerable effect, and this trend is likely to continue.

The Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) has a clearly defined role in air pollution control and has delegated authority from the province (Montreal is the only other jurisdiction in Canada with this delegated authority). The Fraser Valley Regional District has delegated authority to plan but not manage air quality.

British Columbia is a participant in the [ Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment] (CCME), which includes processes for fine particulates and ground level ozone. Because BC generally has lower levels of pollution than the standards set by the Environmental Protection Act, the CI/KCAC ("Continuous Improvement" and "Keeping Clean Areas Clean") principles of the federal strategy is of special importance.

International law and treaties such as the Kyoto Accord further affect air pollution in BC.

The precautionary principle embodied in international agreements is gaining recognition in Canada and BC as a guide to interpreting pollution law.

ee also

*Beehive burner

Clean air advocacy

Air pollution is often an emotional subject, and one of considerable interest to public health organizations. Advocacy groups are listed here with links to more information.

* The [ BC Environmental Network] is a coalition of over five hundred environmental organizations in BC, including many with an air quality focus.
* The [ BC Lung Association] is one of the oldest and most influential clean air advocacy groups in BC.
* [ Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment]
* [ CHOKED] is an air quality advocacy group in [ Smithers] , a small town in northwestern BC. The group has participated in appeals before the province's Environmental Appeal Board of BC, notably in the case of [ beehive burner pollution] .
* [ Clean Air BC Coalition]
* Community members in and around Duncan, BC have expressed great concern around plans by [ Norske Canada] to burn car tires ( [ tire derived fuel] ) to generate energy in their Crofton pulp mill. The [ Crofton Airshed Citizen's Group] has been active in criticizing this proposal and are now planning an independent study of the expected impacts.
* [ Health Effects Institute]
* [ Reach For Unbleached] is an organization with a special interest in pulp mill pollution issues in BC. Of special interest is their publication, [ The Watershed Sentinel] . Their [ office paper buying club] uses consumer advocacy to bring about corporate environmental change. They also discuss their allegations that provincial monitoring [ misses pulp mill wastes] .
* The [ Sierra Legal Defence Fund] is a non-profit law firm advocating for the environment. They advocate in several public interest areas, including air quality issues.
* The [ Society Promoting Environmental Conservation] has long been involved in air pollution issues in BC.
* The [ David Suzuki Foundation] focuses on climate change in its air quality work.
* [ West Coast Environmental Law] is another non-profit law firm with subject areas that include air quality litigation and briefs to the government. Their Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund is an important vehicle for activists.

External links

(See "Clean air advocacy" above for additional links.)

*International level
** [ Air Quality Agreement] between Canada and the United States

*Federal level
** [ Canadian Environmental Protection Act]
** [ National Pollutant Release Inventory]
** [ Human Health Effects of Fine Particulate Matter] report (about 300 pages)
** [ Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment]

*Provincial level
** [ BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection]
** [ Statues and Associated Regulations (E)] —see items beginning with "Environment", "Environmental"
*** [ Environmental Management Act]
** [ Environmental Appeal Board of BC]
** [ Air quality report commissioned by the province]

*District level
** [ Bulkley Valley and Lakes District Airshed Management Plan]
** [ Greater Vancouver Regional District air quality site]
** [ Skeena Region air quality site]

*Reports from other sources
** BC Lung Association's [ 2007 State of the Air Report] (pdf)
** [ Health and Air Quality 2002—Phase 1] report - a technical report examining the human health effects and related economic costs of air pollution in BC's Lower Fraser Valley (2003; 133 pages)
** [ CAPE's information on children's respiratory health]
** [ CI/KCAC additional concepts]
** [ Draft proposal for the CI/KCAC strategy] (2004)
** [ Environmental Health Perspectives] (U.S. government publication)

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