By Korie Marshall
Valemount’s air quality monitor on top of the Valemount Fire Hall has been out of commission since early February, first because of cold, then because of a communication issue. It is not known yet when it will be fixed.
The filter became stuck during the cold snap, says Brenda Leatham, Air Quality Technician with the Ministry of Environment. A contractor was on site February 6th to resolve that problem, but communications to the site continue to be an issue. Leatham says her counterparts in Victoria are testing a new datalogger and will be shipping it out as soon as it is proven to work with the monitoring technology. It will be deployed soon after, but it is not known yet how long the testing will take.
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.
The Goat has a link to the readings from the Fire Hall on our website, and you can view readings from other sites at the provincial website. Normally hourly and rolling averages of PM10 are displayed.