The Government of Alberta (GoA) is committed to comprehensive air quality management, including implementing the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) as part of the national Air Quality Management System. Air emissions are managed for Alberta to achieve the CAAQS as these standards are updated over time. While secondary particulate matter remains a major regional contributor to ambient PM2.5, dust is one of the contributors to primary particulate matter levels measured at CAAQS monitoring stations across the province and is applicable across multiple sectors. Based on the 2020 Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory, dust from construction operations, unpaved roads, and paved roads are collectively a major source of particulate matter emitted in the province.
Dust is a generic term for airborne particulate matter that originates from certain sources under certain conditions. For the purposes of this project, dust is defined as:
“Small, dry, solid particles projected into the air by natural forces, such as wind, volcanic eruption, and by mechanical or man-made processes. Dust particles are usually in the size range from 1 to 100 µm in diameter” (Glossary of Atmospheric Chemistry Terms (IUPAC, 1990))
The CASA Non-Point Source Project (2015-2017) was tasked with helping to address non-point source air emissions contributing to ambient PM2.5 and ozone standard non-achievement in Alberta, and road and construction dust were identified by the project’s Technical Task Group as a source of PM2.5 in all air zones (Recommendation 10 of the Non-Point Source project final report).
Benefits of dust management for all sectors may include:
- Improved human health, environmental, and social (including nuisance) issues associated with dust and its constituents
- Improved air quality conditions for workers, residents, and others nearby
- Reduced complaints from residents regarding dust issues
- Improved safety due to improved visibility
- Reduced erosion and sediment issues from materials tracked from the site, entering watercourses, deposition on soils, or covering vegetation, and thereby reducing the potential for environmental impacts such as acidification and eutrophication
To provide guidance information that will enable Albertans to reduce and mitigate particulate matter emissions from anthropogenic non-point sources to help improve local air quality management in Alberta and support regional CAAQS achievement.
The project scope includes:
- Human health, environmental, and social (including nuisance) issues associated with dust and its constituents
- Development and dissemination of a best practices guide for dust management that 1) covers anthropogenic activities whereby particulate matter may be generated; resuspended; or released by materials stored, stockpiled, or handled; 2) considers dust monitoring that is practical and effective; and 3) provides references to additional relevant information. Dust sources are identified in the CASA Non-Point Source Project Report, and for this project include:
- Road dust – emissions resulting from the re-suspension of particulate matter by vehicles travelling on paved and unpaved roads (all sectors)
- Construction operations – emissions resulting from soil disturbance on construction sites (all sectors, i.e., residential, industrial-commercial-institutional, engineering)
- Industrial non-point sources (such as at mines, pits, quarries, asphalt paving plants, concrete producing plants), whether the activity requires an EPEA authorization or not.
- Consideration of any existing best practices for management, in all sectors, to help inform the guide
- Focus on air and to include multi-media (air, water, and land) considerations where appropriate.
- The guide will undertake a holistic view of dust mitigation measures and their impacts and include considerations for climate and weather.