What are we monitoring and why

Air quality is a marker of how clean our air is. This is determined by the rate at which pollutants are emitted into the atmosphere and how effectively the atmosphere can disperse those contaminants. This, in turn, is affected by wind (speed and direction), temperature (at various heights) and turbulence, with local topography (e.g., valleys and hills) having an impact on each of those.

View a map of the ACA boundaries

Air pollutants can come from a variety of sources, such as:

  • Industry (e.g., oil and gas, manufacturing) – “Point sources”
  • Vehicle emissions – “Non-point sources”
  • Homes (e.g., heating systems) and commercial operations – “Area sources”

Air pollutants that are monitored include:

Types of monitoring technology include:

  • Continuous monitoring stations – measure different combinations of pollutants, depending on the individual station’s monitoring objectives. They provide near instantaneous measurements. Substances measured: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, particulates and sulphur dioxide.
  • Passive monitors – require no power and consist of a series of filters through which air passes, and thus detect low sample amounts. They provide monthly average measurements. Two substances typically measured: sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide,

What can we do to improve air quality?


  • Conserve energy (e.g., turn off lights, set home temperature lower)
  • Use alternate transportation (e.g., walk, bike, carpool, public transit)
  • Support alternative energy sources (e.g., wind, solar)
  • Better insulate your house
  • Reduce vehicle use
  • Recycle paper
  • Reduce vehicle idling
  • Use oxygenated gasolines (e.g., ethanol blend)
  • Ensure proper home insulation (e.g., reduce drafts)
  • Use energy efficient appliances
  • Use paints with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and avoid oil-based paint
  • Avoid burning wood and don’t burn materials in your yard (esp. plastics, cardboard, etc)
  • Avoid using pesticides
  • Compost waste (e.g., leaves, garden trimmings)
  • Check tire pressure and regularly maintain your car


  • Apply dust suppressants
  • Support ‘emission scrubbing’ technology
  • Use proper dust collection at source
  • Promote hydrogen fuel cell technology, solar powered vehicles and electric-powered vehicles
  • Conserve energy

Get Involved

As an airshed, educating about air quality is an essential part of what we do. It is important to us as an organization to inform through not only sharing air quality data but also providing tips on how we can all do our part to reduce air pollution and serve as environmental stewards at an individual level.

Learn more