Air quality is being tested regularly in Lavington.

Air quality is being tested regularly in Lavington.

Lavington air quality results meet targets

Almost a year’s worth of air quality data has now been collected from an air monitoring station

Lavington’s air quality is stacking up to provincial objectives, despite the addition of a potential pollutant.

Almost a year’s worth of air quality data has now been collected from an air monitoring station at the Lavington Baptist Church.

And so far, the numbers show that particulate matter 2.5 is within acceptable objectives set out by the Ministry of Environment.

“We have no exceedences,” said Tarek Ayache, air quality meteorologist with MoE.

Monitoring began Nov. 9, 2015 following public concerns over the arrival of the Pinnacle pellet plant and with it, the release of particulate matter (which can cause respiratory and cardiac problems).

“What we’re measuring there is fine particulate matter, PM 2.5,” explains Ayache. “Every hour we get an average concentration.”

Wind speed and direction and temperature (which help indicate which direction the concentration is coming from) are also measured.

Provincial objectives are that PM 2.5 should not exceed 25 micrograms per cubic metre within any 24-hour period.

“But there’s no line in the sand,” adds Ayache. “It’s not to say that anything below would be perfectly safe.”

While most days were below objectives, some dates from Lavington came close to the threshold.

“They came close but did not exceed,” said Ayache, noting that the dates fall in winter.

“Especially in the winter, not just in Lavington, but all over the province you have problems with stagnation,” said Ayache of the inversion that tends to trap pollution closer to the ground.

Winter is also the season for another source of pollution: woodstoves.

Such details were shared at the first Lavington airshed management committee meeting, comprised of representatives from MoE, Pinnacle, Tolko (who voluntarily took part) and Lavington Is For Everyone (concerned residents).

“We’re also seeking another community group,” said Ayache.

The district of Coldstream is not interested in being involved in the committee, according to a staff report.

Despite the lack of the municipalty’s presence, the meeting kickstarts the process which has been identified in a Memorandum of Understanding reached between several LIFE members, Pinnacle and MoE (which was the result of an appeal three residents made on the air discharge permit issued to Pinnacle). As part of the MoU, a committee was to be formed. It also identifies the need for a wood stove exchange program in the region, something LIFE is looking into.

The ministry will be providing a report based on the air quality data collected in Lavington once a full year has been collected.

Meanwhile, Ayache says air quality in Vernon is also good.

“Over the same period also in Vernon we did not have any days that were above provincial objectives,” said Ayache of the Okanagan Science Centre air quality monitoring station.

Although, when it comes to the data in Lavington, there is nothing to examine the current situation against.

“We do not have any measurements in Lavington prior to November of last year,” said Ayache.

But what they do have is solid.

“Up to Sept. 30, 2016 we have valid data from Lavington at a rate of almost 93 per cent. The minimum we require is 75 per cent for us to do a sound analysis.”