New monitoring station helps clear the air
A new air quality monitoring station is giving families in the Comox Valley access to real-time information to help them protect their health on low air quality days, Environment Minister Terry Lake announced today as part of Canadian Environment Week (June 5-11) celebrations.
The air quality station is a partnership between the Ministry of Environment and the Comox Valley Regional District and monitors the effects of industrial, residential and commercial activities on the air shed. Live air quality readings are available online through the webpage: bcairquality.com
The station was installed near Courtenay Elementary school this spring at a cost of about $100,000. Ministry technicians have been fine-tuning the equipment to ensure air quality readings are accurate. Ongoing maintenance and operating costs of about $10,000 per year will be jointly funded by the CVRD and the Ministry of Environment.
The new station gathers air quality information in Courtenay that will be used to create the Air Quality Health Index for the Comox Valley, which is a public information tool that helps Canadians protect their health daily from the negative effects of air pollution. The information also supports local initiatives to reduce the impact of wood stoves and open burning on air quality.
The monitoring station measures fine particulate matter in the air from smoke, transportation exhaust and other sources. It also measures ground-level ozone and nitrogen oxides, which are two key indicators of air quality.
"The Comox Valley is known for its gorgeous scenery and outdoor recreation opportunities," said Comox Valley MLA Don McRae. "The new air quality monitoring station will help people protect their health on days with lower air quality.
"People can look at live air quality readings and decide for themselves whether or not it's a good day for outdoor physical activity."
"The CVRD has been working with the province for some time, helping to gather data on the quality of the air in our region," said Comox Valley Regional District chair Edwin Grieve.
"Last September we endorsed the installation of a permanent air quality monitoring station and we are pleased to see that it has come to fruition."
B.C. Minister of Environment Terry Lake said, "The Comox Valley asked for better information about air quality, and we're delivering on that request with a permanent monitoring station.
"The new station is an important tool for education and awareness, and provides vital information about air quality in the Comox Valley."
Live data on general air quality in Courtenay and communities all around B.C. is available on the BC Air Quality website at www.bcairquality.com.
— Ministry of Environment