Air quality indicators

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Air quality can deteriorate due to the presence of one or more air pollutants such as ground-level ozone (O3), sulphur oxides (SOX), nitrogen oxides (NOX), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and solid and liquid particles called fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Ground-level ozone and PM2.5 are the main components of smog. The levels of these pollutants in outdoor air are influenced by many factors, including the proximity to local emission sources, weather conditions, chemical reactions in the air and the transport of air pollutants over long distances by winds.

The Air Quality indicators provide information on the outdoor concentrations of five air pollutants: PM2.5, O3, sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and VOCs. These air pollutants were selected because they are among the pollutants that most Canadians are exposed to and they can cause adverse health and environmental effects. Some of them also contribute to the formation of acid deposition.

The PM2.5 and the O3 peak air quality indicators are reported relative to the associated 2015 Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (the Standards).Footnote [1] In May 2013, the Standards were established as objectives under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

Summary

Between 2000 and 2014, the two national indicators of PM2.5, the annual average and peak (98th percentile) 24-hour, were below the 2015 Standards. In 2014 the PM2.5 annual average and peak (98th percentile) indicators were 23% and 20% below the respective 2015 Standards.

The national O3 peak (4th-highest) 8-hour indicator was close to the Standard from 2000 to 2007 and dropped below it from 2008 to 2014. In 2014, the O3 peak indicator was 14% below the 2015 Standard.

Fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone air quality indicators relative to the 2015 Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards, Canada, 2000 to 2014

Indexed line chart - Long description below.
Long description

The indexed line chart shows the percentage of ambient concentrations relative to the 2015 Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards from 2000 to 2014 for three air quality indicators: fine particulate matter annual average, fine particulate matter peak (98th percentile) 24-hour and ground-level ozone peak (4th-highest) 8-hour indicator.

Data for this chart
Fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone air quality indicators relative to the 2015 Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards, Canada, 2000 to 2014
Year Ground-level ozone peak (4th-highest) 8-hour (relative to the 2015 Standard in percent) Fine particulate matter annual average (relative to the 2015 Standard in percent) Fine particulate matter peak (98th percentile) 24-hour (relative to the 2015 Standard in percent)
2000 -6.5 -33.1 -29.8
2001 7.3 -32.7 -17.4
2002 7.8 -27.3 -6.2
2003 7.6 -27.4 -7.5
2004 -5.2 -35.0 -15.4
2005 0.5 -30.4 -7.7
2006 -2.2 -37.0 -26.8
2007 2.4 -39.3 -23.0
2008 -4.9 -38.0 -28.6
2009 -9.3 -40.7 -35.9
2010 -5.3 -29.2 -8.7
2011 -10.1 -32.3 -26.6
2012 -4.0 -35.2 -31.0
2013 -10.6 -26.0 -28.4
2014 -13.7 -23.4 -19.9

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.64 KB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The horizontal dashed line at 0% represents the 2015 Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standard for each indicator and is shown for indicative purposes only. New fine particulate matter monitoring equipment was progressively introduced across Canada to replace older monitoring equipment from the mid-2000's to 2014. These new instruments measure a portion (semi-volatile) of the fine particulate matter mass not captured by the older instruments. Due to the differences between the new and the old monitoring equipment, concentrations measured with the new monitors may not be directly comparable with measurements from years in which older instruments were used.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) National Air Pollution Surveillance Program and the Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network.

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This indicator supports the measurement of progress towards the long-term goal of the 2016-2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy: All Canadians live in clean, sustainable communities that contribute to their health and well-being.

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