Air quality measurements

Air quality measurement programs are essential to advancing the understanding of atmospheric constituents and the impact of human activities on the environment.  Being able to identify different air pollution sources accurately increases the ability to put in place effective policy and regulatory measures to improve the quality of the air Canadians breathe.

Environment Canada’s air quality research scientists, chemists, engineers and technologists collect scientific data through various monitoring and sampling programs, with air and precipitation measurements taken at urban, rural and background locations, as well as using remote sensing techniques such as light detection and ranging (lidar) technology, and through ground-based monitoring of the stratosphere.  All measurements undertaken are of the highest quality, using accurate calibration techniques and maintaining third-party accreditation to international standards.

Systematic measurements are taken to:

  • provide long-term, high quality observations of atmospheric composition and radiation at locations representative of major atmospheric regimes (and geopolitical regions) across Canada;
  • design and optimize air quality monitoring networks at urban, rural, and background sites across Canada;
  • monitor and assess the impact of atmospheric pollution on human and ecosystem health;
  • conduct atmospheric research studies and participate in international monitoring programs involving balloon, ground-based and airborne instrumentation;
  • produce datasets of high quality measurements and trend analyses for air and precipitation chemistry to assess the impact of human activities on the atmosphere; and
  • help provide traceable and efficient measurements and real-time information on air quality processes for assimilation into air quality prediction models and other predictive methodologies.
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