Air quality monitor cutting out

By Korie Marshall

BC Ministry of Environment technicians were in Valemount last week repairing the air quality monitor on the roof of the Fire Department, but it had communications problems again over the past weekend.

The filter had become stuck in a cold snap in early February which was quickly repaired, but communications to the site continued to be an issue. A local resident noticed it was reporting again last week, which the ministry confirmed, but communications were lost again over the weekend.

At press time, the site is communicating, and hourly and rolling averages are being displayed on BC air quality’s website. The Air Quality Index is reporting to the widget on the Goat’s website.

Valemount is the only air quality monitoring station between Prince George and Kamloops. The continuous monitor was installed last year by the Ministry at a cost of $10,000, and replaced a non-continuous monitor that only gave anecdotal information about the air quality in the region.

The new monitor measures PM10, or particulate matter around 10 micrometers in size, which can penetrate the deepest part of the lungs, causing or exacerbating a variety of respiratory and other health problems. PM10 can come from smoke, dust, motor vehicle exhaust and industrial sources. The World Health Organization targets are a maximum of three days a year with up to 150 micrograms of PM10 per cubic metre and 70 micrograms per cubic metre for long-term exposures to PM10.