Air Quality & Open Burning

Background

Recent emissions inventories and air quality studies completed on behalf of the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and Cowichan Valley Regional District show that particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) is the contaminant of concern for the Cowichan Region. PM2.5 is one of the only Criteria Air Contaminants that regularly exceeds provincial and federal air quality guidelines and has human health, environmental, and economic impacts. Tables 1, 2 and 3 below display PM2.5 data in comparison to the provincial air quality objectives.

Table 3 illustrates that the largest single source of PM2.5 emissions within the Cowichan Valley Regional District is open burning, accounting for 53% of PM2.5 emissions in 2014. As a result, in 2017, North Cowichan Council amended its bylaws in an attempt to reduce unnecessary burning in close proximity to urban areas and eliminate large-scale open burning where feasible. The links above provide information about restrictions on and alternatives to open burning.

Table 1 - Provincial and Federal air quality objectives for PM2.5.

Air Quality Objectives

Annual Average

Daily Average

Provincial Air Quality Objective

8 ug/m3

25 ug/m3

Canadian Ambient Air Quality Objective

10 ug/m3

28 ug/m3

 

Table 2 - A summary of the PM2.5 data from each of the air quality monitoring stations within or adjacent to North Cowichan municipal boundaries.

Station

Year

Annual Average (ug/m3)

 

 

Percentage of Days Where the Daily Average PM2.5 Level Exceeds the Provincial AQO (25ug/m3)

Cairnsmore St

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

10.8

8.5

8.5

7.7

7.6

6.1%

2.9%

5.1%

4.5%

2.0%

Deykin Ave

[1]

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

4.6

3.9

4.3

6.0

7.1

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

1.2%

1.4%

Crofton Substation

[1]

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

4.3

3.6

4.0

6.6

6.4

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.3%

0.6%

Crofton Georgia Heights Park [2]

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

No Data

No Data

No Data

8.3

9.1

No Data

No Data

No Data

1.0%

1.4%

Note:         [1]  Air quality monitoring stations which had upgrades to the monitoring equipment in 2014 and 2015.  The new equipment has resulted in more accurate and higher readings than in previous years falsely indicating that air quality is getting worse.  Also note that 2015 data was affected by local wildfires in the summer months. [2] This monitoring station is situated in a strategic location for the purposes of monitoring emissions from the Catalyst Mill.

Table 3 – Summary of 2014 regional emissions inventory completed for the Ministry of Environment and Cowichan Valley Regional District.

Source Type

Source

Percentage of Total PM2.5 Emissions in the CVRD

Notes

Point Sources

Pulp & paper sector

14

 

Other point sources

3

 

Total

17

 

Area Sources

Open burning

53

Including agricultural, forestry, development, and residential backyard burning.

Space heating

24

Including Natural gas, oil and wood. Does not distinguish between new and old wood burning appliance emissions.

Total

77

 

Mobile Sources

Transportation and other

6

Mainly from on-road, Marine and Non-road equipment

Total

6

 

 

Relevant Information and Studies

Emissions Inventory Compilation and Forecast for the CVRD (Levelton Consultants).pdf [PDF - 4.9 MB]

CVRD Airshed Protection Strategy.pdf [PDF - 1.3 MB]