Air Quality, Energy & Greenhouse Gases

AIR QUALITY

Air quality is an environmental and social issue of high priority since it can have a profound effect on quality of life.  The Lower Fraser Valley Airshed (LFVA), in which Chilliwack is located, is a confined because air becomes trapped in the valley due to the surrounding mountains.  As a result, the airshed is susceptible to the build-up of contaminants.  Therefore, protective measures are required to reduce potential impacts on human health, visibility and the environment. 

The LFVA is shown by light green on the map below.

 (map source: 2000 Emission Inventory for the LFVA)

Air quality in Chilliwack

Air quality is generally very good in the Chilliwack area.  However, during the summer months concerns arise about the possible impacts of deteriorating air quality.  These concerns include human health, lower visibility and harm to the environment.

Air quality in Chilliwack is a function of both human and environmental factors.  Vehicle, industrial and agricultural emissions are the greatest human factors.  Weather conditions also influence Chilliwack’s air quality, as wind from the west transports pollutants up the valley.

The major contaminants which affect Chilliwack’s air quality include:

•   Carbon Monoxide (CO) – This compound can reduce the ability of blood to carry oxygen.  The major source of carbon monoxide is vehicle emissions.

•   Ground-level Ozone (O3) – Ground-level ozone forms from the reaction between NOX and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight and warm temperatures. This contaminant is a major contributor to smog.

•   Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) – Sources of VOCs include solvents and vehicle emissions.  Some VOCs have potentially toxic effects.  These compounds can react with NO to form ground level ozone and smog.

•   Nitrogen oxides (NOX) and Sulphur oxides (SOX) – The major sources include motor vehicle and industrial emissions.  These compounds are related to respiratory problems, acid rain and smog.

•   Ammonia (NH3) – Ammonia can react in the atmosphere to produce PM2.5 which is related to respiratory problems and reduced visibility.  The largest source of ammonia in Chilliwack is agriculture.

•   Particulate Matter (PM10, PM2.5) – Agricultural activity produces a large amount of dust, especially during dry periods.  Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is also a product of the reaction between ammonia (NH3) and NOX in the atmosphere.  Particulate matter is related to respiratory problems and reduced visibility.

Source: 2005 Lower Fraser Valley Air Emissions Inventory

Greenhouse Gases - These gases are believed to contribute to global climate change.  The major greenhouse gases include: 

•   Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – This gas is released through the burning of fossil fuels and solid waste. Therefore, the major sources of carbon dioxide are vehicle emissions and heating.

•   Methane (CH4) – Methane is mainly produced through agricultural activities as it results from the decomposition of organic waste and the raising of livestock.

•   Nitrous Oxide (N2O) – Cars and trucks are the major source of nitrous oxide followed by agricultural activities and burning.

Source: 2005 Lower Fraser Valley Air Emissions Inventory

Air Quality Monitoring in Chilliwack

Air quality and emissions in the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) are regulated by the provincial government under the Environmental Management Act.  Additionally, the FVRD oversees an air quality program for the region and also developed an Air Quality Management Plan.  For more information, please visit the FVRD Air Quality and Climate website

Air quality in Chilliwack is monitored on an on-going basis by Metro Vancouver.  The major pollutants monitored include:

  1. carbon monoxide (CO)
  2. ozone (O3)
  3. nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  4. sulphur dioxide (SO2)
  5. inhalable particulate matter (PM10)
  6. fine particulate matter (PM2.5)

Based on the monitoring results, a multi-agency group of air quality and health specialists calculates and reports a standardized measurement called the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI).  This index has been designed to replace the previous air quality index (AQI).  The Air Quality Health Index has been designed to report the health risks associated with different levels and mixtures of pollutants known to affect human health.  More information on the air quality health index as well as today's readings can be found at:  http://www.bcairquality.ca/readings/index.html.  Concentrations of major pollutants can also be accessed from that website.

Metro Vancouver also prepares a Lower Fraser Valley Air Emissions Inventory every five years.  

 

ENERGY AND GREENHOUSE GASES (GHG)

Many of the sources of air pollution also produce greenhouse gases (fossil fuel combustion, agriculture); therefore, the City of Chilliwack is taking an integrated approach to address the connected issues of air pollution, energy and GHGs.  Greenhouse gas emissions are of concern due to their contribution to global climate change and associated ecological impacts.

The City of Chilliwack has worked with Stantec Consulting and stakeholders to develop a Community Air Quality, Energy and Greenhouse Gas Action Plan.  A separate Corporate Action Plan has also been developed, to address the City-owned infrastructure and fleet.

Air Quality, Energy and Greenhouse Gas Action Plan webpage

Under the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP), the provincial government requires local governments to publicly report on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gases.  Copies of the City of Chilliwack's CARIP reports can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. 

Attachments
Description Date File Size
City of Chilliwack 2012 CARIP Report 2013-05-30 316KB
City of Chilliwack 2013 CARIP Report 2014-06-02 148KB
2014 CARIP Climate Actions Public Report 2015-03-06 178KB
2014 CARIP Carbon Neutral Progress Public Report 2015-06-01 157KB
2015 CARIP Climate Action/Carbon Neutral Progress Survey 2016-05-19 188KB
2016 CARIP Climate Action/Carbon Neutral Progress Survey 2017-05-31 333KB
2017 CARIP Climate Action/Carbon Neutral Progress Survey 2018-05-31 526KB

Air Quality Health Index

Up-to-date information from Environment Canada about the Air Quality Health Index in the Fraser Valley.

Air Quality, Energy and Greenhouse Gas Action Plan

Information on the Community Air Quality, Energy and Greenhouse Gas Action Plan.

Idle-Free

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and smog causing pollutants, the City has launched an "anti-idling" campaign. This campaign involves both policy and public education components. In September 2004, City Council adopted a policy that will eliminate all unnecessary vehicle idling within municipal fleets.

Why Idling Is A Problem | Idling Myths | Ready To Do Your Part? Spare Our Air

Waste Incineration

Discusses the Metro plan to utilize waste to energy and the City's stance on the issue.

What actions can be taken to protect our air?

Ways that residents can help improve our air quality.

Wood Burning

Important environmental, health and safety information that you should know about wood burning.

Wood Stove Exchange Program

The FVRD has launched a Wood Stove Exchange Program to improve air quality in the region. Find out how you can get a $250 rebate.