Iqaluit to have hourly air-quality checks in 2012

Environment Canada is installing new air-quality measuring equipment in Iqaluit to better monitor the area's pollution levels on an hourly basis.
Fumes from a 2010 dump fire in Iqaluit waft across construction debris. Environment Canada is setting up new air-quality surveillance systems to gather hourly data on contaminants in the air.

Environment Canada is installing new air-quality measuring equipment in Iqaluit to better monitor the area's pollution levels on an hourly basis.

The new system, expected to be in place by early 2012, would also allow the government department in charge of environmental policies to calculate Iqaluit's air-quality health index.

The current air-quality surveillance stations for Iqaluit give much more limited readings about dust in the atmosphere, and only operate every six days.

The new equipment would be able to gather hourly data.

'Continuous data'

Luc White, the manager of Environment Canada's National Air Pollution Surveillance Program, said the latest air-quality monitoring networks will help to identify new concerns and also help determine when it's necessary to issue health advisories.

"Since we've got continuous data, you can better assess the air quality because you've got it in real time," White said. "You also don't miss episodes such as forest fires or landfill fires, or such events that could affect the health of the urban community."

A landfill fire last year blew smoke across Frobisher Bay as well as the city, prompting concerns that the smoke could be toxic or affect people with respiratory problems. 

The new air-quality equipment will also take readings on ozone levels.