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Canada tightens ambient air quality standards

Environment Canada has just released new, more stringent, Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards intended to improve outdoor air quality. The standards could affect industrial, power and other construction projects that consulting...


Environment Canada has just released new, more stringent, Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards intended to improve outdoor air quality. The standards could affect industrial, power and other construction projects that consulting engineers design.

The CAAQS standards cover particulate matter and ground level ozone, and for the first time include a long-term annual target for fine particulate matter. The standards will be set as objectives under sections 54 and 55 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

They are the first concrete step towards implementing Canada’s new Air Quality Management System (AQMS), which has been agreed to by provincial, territorial and federal environment ministers at the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said at the May 24 announcement: “The quality of the air we breathe can have a direct impact on our health. These new air quality standards are an important part of Health Canada’s mandate to protect the health of Canadians.”

Under the new standards, acceptable levels for ambient ground level ozone on an 8-hour period, for example, have been decreased from 65 parts per billion currently, to 63 parts per billion in 2015, and 62 parts per billion in 2020.

Particulate matter 2.5 for 24 hours is reduced from 30 μg/m3 currently to 28 μg/m3 in 2015, and 27 μg/m3 in 2020.

Particulate matter 2.5 on an annual basis is 10 μg/m3 in 2015 and 8.8 μg/m3 in 2020.

Additional work is now going forward by the federal, provincial and territorial governments to develop ambient air quality standards for sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

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