Hamilton Air Quality Study Positive for Common Irritants, Gaseous Air Contaminant Concern – Hamilton | The Canadian News

The president of a Hamilton group that monitors the city’s air quality says there have been improvements overall amid the COVID-19 pandemic despite minimal challenges with potentially toxic gas and smog.

The annual report of Clean Air Hamilton says residents did not benefit from a big drop in air pollution in 2020, despite closures.

However, Bruce Newbold, the group’s president, told the city’s board of health that a general trend of improvement that began in the 1990s has continued.

“The news continues to be good within the city in terms of reducing criteria air pollutants,” Newbold told councilmembers.

“Although we know there are variations in air quality throughout the city, what we see in the west end of the city … differs from anywhere else within the city.”

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The study revealed that dust levels fell slightly in the city center and nitrogen dioxide levels remained stable, while sulfur dioxide and particulate matter rose in 2020.

Releases at municipal and industrial sites have been declining since 1996 with particulate matter below desired annual concentrations set by Ontario Ministry of the Environment guidelines.

Inhalable particulate matter, derived primarily from vehicle exhaust fumes, road dust and industrial batteries, has also declined over the past two decades, a change suspected to reflect better vehicle performance and practices. sweeping streets in the city.

However, Newbold says the counterweight to that is an increasing number of trucks and heavy goods vehicles on city streets.

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“Some of that particulate matter is associated with vehicle braking or idling, so we know that’s a place and we’d like to see improvements … through some sort of provincial piece and legislation associated with the transportation industry. by road,” Newbold said.

Fine particulate matter, an air pollutant that is a concern for people’s health when levels are high, has been on an upward trend particularly in West Hamilton according to Newbold, who says sources outside of the city contribute to the numbers. generals.

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It’s transportable through our air systems, so we could be seeing particulates or PM2.5 coming to us from, say, the Ohio Valley, for example,” Newbold said.

Hamilton Air Quality Study positive for common irritants, concern for a gaseous air pollutant - image

hamilton clean air

Ground-level ozone, a major component of smog that comes from photochemical reactions in the presence of sunlight, saw a marked increase in 2020 despite being variable over the past 20 years.

In 2020, the city saw more hourly readings above 50 parts per billion (ppb), which the monitor considers high.

Hamilton Air Quality Study positive for common irritants, concern for a gaseous air pollutant - image

hamilton clean air

Over the past 30 years, Hamilton’s trend in ozone levels has been comparable to that of other nearby communities, but sulfur dioxide concentrations have not.

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A byproduct of smoke from matches, coal, and some fuels, the chemical compound is mildly toxic and dangerous in high concentrations if inhaled.

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Over the last 13 years, the city has exceeded its goal of maintaining levels at 4 ppb, much higher than other neighboring Ontario municipalities.

“It probably reflects the mix of industries that we have within the city and the location of the industry within the city compared to some of these other locations,” Newbold explained.

Hamilton Air Quality Study positive for common irritants, concern for a gaseous air pollutant - image

hamilton clean air

The study’s message is generally good overall, but it suggests making efforts to reduce sulfur dioxide and investing in more tools for more accurate testing.

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“We will continue to expand air quality monitoring by looking at projects within the community, along with partner organizations and academics, to better understand neighborhood-level air pollution concentrations,” Newbold told councilmembers.


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