Red Deer air quality called into question

Red Deer citizens can no longer count on having clean air every day.

Red Deer citizens can no longer count on having clean air every day.

Air quality in the Red Deer area was found in need of improvement, according to an assessment conducted by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. Measurements taken at a Riverside Drive Air Monitoring Station were higher than acceptable Canada-wide standards on airborne particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter.

This happened during a higher-than-normal frequency of stagnant air episodes in the winters of 2010 and 2011.

Although the found air pollutants are less than one-60th the diameter of a human hair, city residents should be “somewhat concerned,” said Kevin Warren, executive director of the Parkland Air Management Zone (PAMZ), which operates the monitoring station.

“The fine particulate matter gets into people’s lungs and has health affects,” added Warren, who believes those with lung ailments are particularly susceptible to winter smog.

Particulate matter isn’t just dust, but could include liquid droplets that can remain in aerosol form or turn into a gas. The pollutants could contain diesel, said Warren, who blames the poor air episodes on emissions from motor vehicles and industry, combined with air inversion systems that keep pollutants at ground level.

Although no studies have been done on the composition of the fine particulate matter, he believes a study is warranted.

Besides the particulate matter, PAMZ is keeping a watch on local ozone, which was found to be at “surveillance action levels.”

These levels turned up after improved monitoring technology was installed in 2009, resulting in higher but more accurate findings.

As a result, Alberta Environment is developing a plan to reduce concentrations of particulate matter in the area. Warren said letters are going out to area industries and municipalities, seeking their help in bringing down levels of the air pollutant. PAMZ will also participate in the development of a reduction plan.

Warren said the City of Red Deer already has a proactive no-idling policy for city vehicles. Stakeholders will have to put their heads together to see what else can be done.

In the meantime, he urges those with health concerns to monitor the PAMZ website (, which contains a health index that reveals when inversion conditions are happening. This should prompt those with lung problems to avoid outdoor activities.

So far, weather inversions have happened twice this month, on Feb. 6 and 7.

Warren said Red Deer isn’t the only city with particulate problems. Winter smog routinely crops up in Edmonton and other centres.

PAMZ is also running a temporary air quality monitor in the Lancaster reservoir to determine whether it’s suitable as a second permanent monitoring site.

Just Posted

The second Leah’s Light 5K walk/run for overdose awareness was held at Kiwanis Picnic Park in Red Deer on Saturday morning. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Child advocate calls for provincial youth strategy to address opioid crisis

Twenty-nine young Albertans died from opioid poisoning in the first three months of 2021

(File photo by Advocate staff)
Youth faces weapons charge after incident at Sylvan Lake Beach

A 16-year-old male has been charged with possession of a weapon for… Continue reading

The viewing tower at Medicine River Wildife Centre is part of the centre’s walking trail. (Photo from Facebook)
Cross-country skiing coming to Medicine River Wildlife Centre

Recipient of $10,000 from 2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society

The City of Red Deer is reaching out to the community to see if anyone wants to move and maintain the Scout Hut from 1937. The land it sits on is needed for a women’s shelter expansion. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
City of Red Deer calling for proposals for preserving, moving Scout Hut

The 47th Avenue land it sits on is needed for women’s shelter expansion

Students at Olds College will be learning what’s new in agricultural technology at the facility’s Smart Farm. (Photo contributed)
New agricultural technologies explored by students at Olds College

Olds College is launching a new SmartFarm program to help farmers and… Continue reading

Vaccination, Maple Ridge, March 26, 2021 (Ronan O'Doherty/Black Press Media)
Alberta confirms two patient deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant at Calgary hospital

EDMONTON — A health official says two patients at Calgary’s Foothills hospital… Continue reading

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan's decision to travel to Arizona for a holiday has been sharply criticized by many.
Advocate file photo
Jason Stephan: Quebec’s actions undermine interests of Alberta

Prior to serving as a MLA, I structured many commercial partnership agreements.… Continue reading

FILE - Great Britain’s Andrew Matthews, from left to right, Ben Simons, Toby Olubi and Lamin Deen celebrate after their second-place finish in a four-man World Cup Bobsleigh race in Whistler, British Columbia, in this Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, file photo. British Bobsleigh and Skeleton announced Thursday, June 17, 2021, that the four-man team of Deen, Simons, Olubi and Matthews has been upgraded to the gold medal for a race that occurred Nov. 25, 2017 in Whistler, Canada. The Russian crew that beat them that day has since been disqualified. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Britain upgraded to World Cup bobsled gold from 2017 race

Driver of Russian sled was sanctioned for doping violations

Leylah Annie Fernandez, of Canada, returns a shot Marie Bouzkova, of the Czech Republic, in round 1 of the Rogers Cup women’s tennis tournament in Toronto, Monday August 5, 2019. Leylah Annie Fernandez lost 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) to No. 2 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the second round of the Viking Classic Birmingham on Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez loses third-set tiebreaker against Ons Jabeur

Jabeur now heads to the quarterfinals at the WTA Tour 250 grass-court event

Feist performs during the Polaris Music Prize gala in Toronto on September 18, 2017. Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist is hitting the road with what’s described as an intimate and “unconventional production” featuring all new music.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Donovan
Leslie Feist to debut new music in ‘unconventional’ and intimate ‘Multitudes’ show

Calgary-raised artist will debut show at Kampnagel Festival in Germany

Letter: Improvements coming to two intersections in Red Deer to help cyclists

A letter in the Advocate on June 9 with complaints about cyclists… Continue reading

Opinion: Trudeau tight-lipped on Constitution attack

When exactly did Canada become a Constitution-bashing country? For nearly 30 years,… Continue reading

Most Read