According to data released by the World Health Organization in Sept of 2012, Canada’s cities collectively ranked third best in a global assessment of air quality[1] based on particulate matter levels. This is a positive in terms of air quality levels and management in Canada. However recent smog events in Edmonton and Red Deer (exceedances of the Canada-wide Standard for particulate matter) indicate urban air quality issues and challenges exist and can be expected to increase as urban populations increase. Through initiatives like the air quality health index [2]people are becoming more aware of localized air quality events and the potential health risks they pose. Increasingly, there are reports of public concern for the look, taste and smell of Alberta’s air, especially in urban centers.

CASA has convened the Non-Point Source (NPS) Project Team composed of government, non-government, airshed and industry members. All deliverables will be developed and accepted based on consensus agreement of all members. The Team has been provided guidance, objectives and potential deliverables to address non-point source air emissions in Alberta as detailed in their Project Charter(September 2014).


NPS Definition:  Point source pollution is a term used to describe emissions from a single discharge source that can be easily identified. Non-point source pollution is the release of pollutants from many different and diffuse sources (aggregated sources of emissions). This aggregation is done because the emission sources are either too small and numerous, too geographically dispersed, or too geographically large to be estimated or represented by a single point. In most cases these emissions are not directly regulated, although there may be product standards at the time of manufacture.

There are four types of non-point sources: Area (e.g. forest fires, tailings ponds), Volume (e.g. particulate emissions from the wind erosion of uncovered piles of materials, fugitive gaseous emissions from various sources within industrial facilities, etc.), Line (e.g. include dust from roadways (a road network), emissions from aircraft along flight paths, etc.), Mobile (e.g. On-road and Non-road sources such as: cars, trucks, boats and non-stationary construction equipment or mine fleets, farm and construction equipment, gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment, etc.).


Innovative, integrated solutions that hold the promise of sustainable change may be found at the convergence of the following areas: consumer behaviour, alternative technologies and land-use planning. Creative approaches (e.g. linked to health and wellness) and province-wide implementation would position Alberta as a leader in the management of non-point source air emissions. There is also potential for this work to inform the content and implementation of air quality management frameworks within regional plans.


The team will focus on PM2.5 and O3 exceedances outlined in the orange or red management levels of the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS). Non-point source (NPS) air emissions are a key element in the Government of Alberta’s (GoA) Clearing the Air: Alberta’s Renewed Clean Air Strategy (CAS), and a significant issue to CASA stakeholders (this project is meant to compliment CAS and regional work currently occurring). NPS emissions must be addressed if we are to maintain and improve air quality in Alberta. A project to address NPS emissions aligns with the CASA goals of providing strategic advice, and of contributing to the development and implementation of effective air quality management in Alberta. It would also contribute to management of air quality in the Capital region, Red Deer, and Calgary, by informing potential actions that could be taken as a part of regional management response plans under Alberta’s Land Use Framework, or identifying cross-cutting actions benefitting all areas.

The work of the project team will be limited to NPS emissions of primary PM2.5, and precursors of secondary PM2.5 and O3 (SOx, NOx, VOCs, and ammonia), although work to reduce these substances is likely to have the co-benefit of reducing other emissions. Limiting the scope in this manner creates a manageable piece of work, with the potential to complement existing initiatives. The primary focus of the project team will be on the six major categories of sources of NPS emissions in Alberta, which are (in no order): agriculture, transportation, construction, biogenic, road dust, and forest fires.


After a 2-month convening period, project work began in November 2015. The working group anticipates that the project will take approximately 22 months, with a completion date of September 2017. The project team will develop a final report providing recommendations and key findings, and documenting the methodology and outcomes of each strategy.

In addition as outlined in the strategies of each objective in the Project Charter, the following sub-deliverables will also be produced during the course of the project team’s work: An evaluated list of recommended management actions and advice for implementation (Obj. 3). Depending on outcomes of each objective, this has the potential to be used as a practitioner’s guide. Communication tools developed in support of Objective 4. (e.g. Fact/Info sheets)


The working group anticipates that the process outlined below will result in the work of the team having an increasingly narrow focus as the project progresses. The ‘Potential Outcomes/Deliverables’ under each objective are not meant to be prescriptive or limit the creativity of the project team, rather to provide additional texture around the intent of the objectives.

Compile and review information and agree on a common understanding of non-point sources in Alberta.

Identify non-point source opportunities in Alberta, where CASA’s multi-stakeholder approach could add the most value.

Identify and recommend management actions, which could include recommending policy change, to address the highest value non-point source air emissions opportunities in Alberta (from Objective 2).

Develop and implement a strategy and action plan for communicating the work of the project team and engaging stakeholders and the public.