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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Clean Air in Grey Bruce

Owen Sound | by Claire McCormack  

Study shows Tiverton site gives accurate reading of air across Grey Bruce.

Recent testing shows Grey Bruce area has clean air.

Results of a joint study on Air Quality in Grey and Bruce conducted by Public Health and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change was presented to the Board of Health in Owen Sound last Friday.

The study was completed in the summer of 2015.

It came about after a 2014 "State of the Environment' and as a result of the realization that the one local permanent monitoring site in Tiverton may not have been giving an accurate representation of the air quality in the whole area.

Last summer, portable monitors were used to measure air quality in Tiverton, Lions Head, Hanover and Owen Sound.

Public Health Program Manager Bob Hart says air quality wasn't any different from location to location and explains it shows there isn't any specific polluter causing changes in quality in the area.

Hart says test results showed air quality is 95 per cent 'low risk' on the Air Quality Health Index.

Hart says that translates into 'excellent' or 'very good."  

He notes air quality only went into a 'moderate risk' level twice due to small events impacted by things outside the area, which could be weather patterns or wind carrying pollutants from another source.

Hart says those instances registered Ozone, which would be the marker to watch, but adds ozone readings didn't even reach a marker level.

According to Hart Ozone can be from innumerable combined sources like forest fires, fossil fuel, or vehicle emissions.

Hart says the low risk rating is good news because there's "a lot of solid scientific evidence out there" that shows a relationship between being exposed to air with lots of pollutants and causing the general healthy population to experience shortness of breath and eye and nose irritations.

Hart says more significantly, high risk air adversely affects people who have underlying illnesses like cardio-pulmonary illness, heart and circulatory problems and things like asthma.

Rick Chappell, with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change says the closing down of many coal powered plants as well as industrial companies using better technology has contributed to an improvement in air quality.


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