FREDERICTON (GNB) – The number of monitoring locations in New Brunswick showing exceedance of the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for sulphur dioxide declined by more than half in 2021.

That information, along with other key monitoring data, is contained in the 2021 Air Quality Monitoring Results report, which was released today.

The drop in sulphur dioxide exceedances from 11 locations in 2020 to five in 2021 is attributed to the closure of the Glencore Smelter in Belledune.

“It’s great to see such a dramatic reduction in sulphur dioxide in the Belledune area,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Gary Crossman. “While we consistently have good air quality in our province, we know there is always room for improvement.”

With regard to provincial standards, there were 15 exceedances. That is higher than 2020, which had a historic low of six. The average for the past 10 years is 15.

“Exceedances are rare and typically the result of unusual weather trapping pollutants in place temporarily, or malfunctions of pollution control equipment,” said Crossman. “These events are usually brief and resolved quickly.”

The main pollutants monitored include carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ground level ozone, particulate matter, total reduced sulphur, and volatile organic compounds.

“The New Brunswick Environmental Network knows the value of accessible information,” said Annika Chiasson, the group’s executive director. “The annual air quality monitoring reports play a vital role in ensuring that the public and stakeholders are informed and understand air quality information in New Brunswick.”

The provincial network includes 10 air quality monitoring stations and five acid rain stations. As well, operators of large industrial facilities are required to participate in air quality monitoring as a condition of approval under the Clean Air Act. During the 2021 reporting year, there were 29 industry-operated stations, with 49 instruments, dedicated to continuously monitoring the ambient concentrations of industry-specific contaminants in nearby communities.

Air quality monitoring in New Brunswick is a partnership between Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Department of Environment and Local Government under the National Air Pollution Surveillance Agreement.

The data used for the annual air reports is also available online at the air quality data portal, which allows the public to view local air quality information in real-time. The portal displays data from all ambient monitoring stations in the province.