Beachville area air quality community update - September 2019
The Beachville area air quality assessment has been ongoing since June 2014 in response to community concerns about air quality stemming from quarry operations. Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) and the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) made a commitment to members of the community to provide updates on air monitoring results and other initiatives aimed at improving air quality and reducing the number of dust events caused by quarry operations. The following is an update on the outcomes of the Ministry’s particulate and air quality sampling program and the independent sampling conducted by SWPH for 2018.
Beachville area air quality community update - May 2018
Enhanced air quality testing and reporting in the Beachville area has been occurred since 2015 in response to community concerns about quarry operations impacting air quality.
A comprehensive air quality assessment was led by Southwestern Public Health (as the former Oxford County Public Health) in partnership with Public Health Ontario, the University of Guelph and in consultation with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).
A final report was shared with the community in April 2016 with a commitment to continue to provide updates on air monitoring results and other initiatives aimed at improving air quality.
Regular community updates provide the latest air monitoring data, as well as information on initiatives aimed at improving air quality.
Particulate sampling results – Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC)
Analysis of four air quality monitoring locations in the Beachville air shed has been completed for 2016 and 2017. The results show:
- A decline in suspended particulate concentrations from historical averages and stable concentrations during the last five years, 2013-2017.
- Historical and current results indicate concentrations are generally below Ambient Air Quality Criteria (AAQC).
- The average total suspended particulate concentrations were below the ministry’s annual AAQC.
- Very low concentration of metals that did not exceed AAQC.
Particulate sampling results – Southwestern Public Health
Throughout 2016 and 2017 Southwestern Public Health monitored particulate matter at six sites across South-West Oxford, Zorra and Ingersoll. Using DustTrak air quality monitors, air samples were taken every five minutes over periods ranging from two weeks to a little over one month. The results show:
- PM2.5, PM10 and total particulate were identified at levels safe for human health.
- Average PM2.5 levels were well below the health-based 24-hour Canada Ambient Air Quality Standard (CAAQS).
- Average PM10 levels were well below the 24-hour Ambient Air Quality Criteria (AAQC).
- Four of the six sites identified very brief high levels of PM2.5, PM10 and total particulate, indicating peak events. These brief peaks may occur from time to time due to motor vehicle traffic, lawn mowing or industrial activity. Several of the sites also experienced elevated levels of PM10 and total particulate, but not elevated PM2.5 levels, which indicates dust events. These brief high levels are not a concern for ongoing adverse health effects.
Air quality monitoring by Southwestern Public Health is conducted independently from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. The MOECC’s findings align with the DustTrak monitor data collected by Southwestern Public Health during the same time period.
Changes to monitoring network - Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC)
In the spring of 2018, the MOECC will be making improvements to the air monitoring network in the Beachville area.
The ministry has installed two continuous particulate Beta Attenuation Monitors (BAMs) that measure PM10 on an hourly basis, 365 days per year. For a minimum of six months, the BAMs will operate in tandem with five HiVol monitors that are currently used, to ensure the new devices operate well in the network and demonstrate satisfactory data collection. Once data integrity is confirmed, four of the HiVol monitors will be removed. The fifth HiVol monitor will continue to log TSP and metal data once every 12 days and meteorological data collection will continue.
The continuous data collection abilities of the BAMs will provide the ministry with substantially more data. Hourly measurements, in conjunction with wind data, will offer focused insight into specific air shed activities. The BAMs also require less maintenance and relay their data wirelessly in nearly real-time, significantly reducing delays between data collection and laboratory analysis.
The ministry’s updates to their monitoring network will better serve their data collection needs as they continue to provide analysis of the Beachville area air quality.
- Updates to MOECC monitoring system – MOECC will be operating two Beta Attenuation Monitors alongside the current five HiVol monitors for the next several months to assess their operation and data quality. These new monitors can provide faster access to significantly more data. MOECC expects to review the implementation of the BAMs and assess data quality by spring 2019.
- Inspections & dialogue - MOECC continues regular inspections of the Beachville area industries and working with the companies, where necessary, to improve local air quality. Public Health continues discussions with quarry operators to work towards improvements in air quality.
- Southwestern Public Health will continue to respond to complaints and conduct periodic assessment of general air quality in the community.
- Residents with air quality concerns are encouraged to take photos and submit to Southwestern Public Health if they experience dust events.