Community Air Monitoring Programme (CAMP)
Created October 26, 2011 by Dr. Judi Krzyzanowski BSc, MSc, PhD
This idea falls into all of the categories available by: involving neighbourhoods, engaging youth, facilitating education, protecting human health, increasing community well-being, evaluating environmental impacts, and embracing cultural knowledge.
The community is Northeast British Columbia (BC), also known as "the Peace"- a large region making up almost 25% of BC, but representing less than 10% of the province's population. Over the past two decades the region has seen explosive growth in oil and gas exploration, extraction, processing and transport. Tens of thousands of high pressure wells and cleared pads dot the landscape, strung together by pipeline and seismic clearings.
In BC there is much more natural gas (methane) than there is oil. Unfortunately much of this gas is "sour" meaning it contains hydrogen sulphide (H2S) - a gas that can be poisonous at relatively low concentrations when compared with other gases. H2S is often burnt to help with dispersion, and to create sulphur dioxide (SO2) another harmful gas known to cause health impacts, acid rain, and the formation of secondary pollutants (aerosols). Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds are also commonly emitted from upstream oil and gas facilities. At certain concentrations these too can negatively impact human and environmental health, and undergo reactions to form new pollutants - such as ozone, a strong oxidiser.
Unfortunately the emissions of theses pollutants are severely under-reported, and under-monitored. There is currently no comprehensive regional air monitoring taking place in the Peace. Rather there are a few scattered industry monitoring efforts that lack transparency, community guidance, or any sharing of results. No one really knows whether or not air pollution levels exceed guidelines, however preliminary research has shown the potential for exceedances of safe limits.
I therefore propose the initial stages of a Community Based Air Monitoring Programme (CAMP) in Northeast BC. My project partners include local community groups and organisations, the local Health Authority, school district, First Nations, and individuals. I expect that once funding is made available that government and industry will too get on board to collaborate. Most of the project costs are derived from monitoring equipment, which is expensive.
Local residents and school classes will learn about air pollution, emissions, how air quality is affecting them, what the air quality is actually like in their neighbourhood, how to monitor air quality, how to interpret monitoring results, and whether or not action needs to be taken to ensure air quality is improved or protected. Monitoring results will be analysed in terms of human health and environmental thresholds by the community at large.
This project affects us all. BC supplies more natural gas than any province other than Alberta, nearly all of it coming from the Peace region. Please vote for my idea. It brings together all of the themes of the fund by empowering neighbourhoods, training youth, promoting education, evaluating health risks, instilling well-being, promoting environmental protection, and creating a new knowledge-based culture.