Enhanced Deposition of Particulate Metals, Oil Sands Region

Enhanced Deposition of Particulate Metals, Oil Sands RegionEnvironment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has been monitoring trace metals in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the oil sands region since December 2010. Active PM2.5 sampling is collected at the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) Air Monitoring Stations: Mannix (AMS5), Lower Camp (AMS11) and Fort McKay South (AMS13; until March 2015), using the established protocols and schedule of the National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) Program. In 2015, sampling began for PM2.5 and PM10-2.5 (coarse fraction) at the Fort McKay (AMS1), Wapasu (AMS17) and Stony Mountain (AMS18) sites.

The data from the measurements conducted so far show that concentrations of metals decrease with distance from the main surface mining and upgrading activities, and that the crustal elements iron, silicon, aluminum, and calcium are present in greater abundance than other metals detected. They are likely associated with fugitive dust emissions of mining-related activities. Higher concentrations of trace elements (e.g. vanadium) are measured at sites that are closer to oil sands mining and upgrading facilities, but their levels were comparable with that observed at the NAPS urban\/sub-urban sites. The annual average concentrations measured for manganese, arsenic and nickel are below the ambient air quality objective established by the Government of Alberta (200 ng∙m−3, 10 ng∙m−3 and 50 ng∙m−3, respectively). The 24-hour average concentrations of manganese at each of the three sites were also below the guideline established by Ontario (100 ng∙m−3) and Health Canada (50 ng∙m−3), except for two episodic observations. These data will be used to estimate deposition to ecosystems and understand cumulative environmental effects associated with current and planned OS activities.


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