Approaching Cumulative Effects through Air Pollution Modelling
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- Krzyzanowski, J. Water Air Soil Pollut (2011) 214: 253. doi:10.1007/s11270-010-0421-1
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The research presented here represents a segment of a cumulative impact assessment of resource development in northeastern British Columbia. It considers point and area source emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides (SO2 and NOx, respectively), over a 2,156-km2 area. With the exception of open burning, all emissions are from Upstream Oil and Gas (UOG) sector sources (SO2, n = 103; NOx, n = 250; area, n = 25). AERMOD View™ was used to estimate the maximum potential concentration and deposition of these pollutants over 1-h, 3-h, 24-h, and annual averaging periods. Results are compared with various thresholds and limits from the policy and scientific literature to assess the potential cumulative effects of these pollutants. Of the thresholds employed, exceedances of the 1-h and 24-h NOx concentrations and the annual SO2 concentration are predicted. There were no predicted exceedances of annual deposition thresholds (i.e., “Critical Loads”). Maximum predicted concentrations vary between compounds and are related to boundary layer stability, elevation, and distance from sources. Comparison with nearby monitoring data indicated that predicted concentrations were reasonable and that AERMOD provides a useful tool for approaching the potential cumulative impacts of air pollution from multiple sources. While the accuracy of Gaussian-based annual deposition estimates is questioned, model enhancements that could extend the application to more comprehensive assessments are suggested. Lastly, the implications of predicted threshold violations for forest ecosystems and local forest-dependent First Nations communities are discussed.