Government of New Brunswick

New Brunswickers enjoy a quality of air that is relatively clean and healthful compared with many other parts of the world. Our relatively sparse population means less human activity to affect the environment that supports us. Still, any human activity will have some impact on air quality. This publication describes why it is necessary to monitor air quality, how it is done, programs in place to tell the public about air quality, and how we can improve it.

Where New Brunswick's Air Polution Comes From

Burning fuels tends to produce most air pollution in New Brunswick: emissions from motor vehicles and other engines, from home and industrial heating systems, from manufacturing operations and power-generating stations; even from woodstoves, fireplaces and campfires. Forest fires can also be a significant natural source of air pollution.

Not all of our air pollution is homegrown, however. Major weather systems come to us from the west and up the Atlantic seaboard, bringing pollutants into our region from the more industrialized and densely populated areas of the United States and central Canada. In the southern part of the province, particularly, cool sea breezes from the Bay of Fundy can slow the dispersal of air pollutants and trap them close to ground level.

Why We Monitor

We know that air pollution can have an effect on the health of our environment and on human health. People who have respiratory difficulties are particularly sensitive to poor air quality. Children are frequently affected because of their physiology and because they tend to be more active outdoors.

Monitoring air quality in New Brunswick helps us to better understand the sources, movements and effects of various substances in the air we breathe. The data we collect helps us to control sources of air pollution within our province, and to negotiate with governments in other jurisdictions for controls on air pollution that crosses borders. The more we know, the more effectively we can work to protect and enhance our air quality and our environment.

A Province-Wide Air Quality Monitoring Network

There are now more than 60 separate locations employing over 100 different devices where outdoor or ambient air quality monitors operate 12 months a year. Some ambient monitoring stations are operated by facilities, such as pulp and paper mills or power-generating stations, as a condition of their Air Quality Approvals, while other sites are operated directly by the New Brunswick Department of Environment. The emissions released by facilities are also monitored in a variety of ways.

All stations must follow sampling procedures set by the Department, and report their data regularly. A variety of methods, including independent audits, are used to check the accuracy of the data.