Haze Pollution In Canada: Regulation And Management

by | Jul 23, 2023 | Climate Change, Pollution

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Haze pollution refers to the presence of a cloud-like or smoky atmospheric condition caused by the accumulation of fine particulate matter, such as smoke, dust, and pollutants, in the air. This haze reduces visibility and can have adverse effects on human health, the environment, and various sectors of the economy.

What is Haze?

Haze constitutes an ambient aerosol that accumulates to become visible. The accumulating particle is minute and almost invisible, but they can induce picture distortion and limit vision range. According to the World Meteorological Organization’s code manual, haze is caused by volcanic ash, dust, smoke, mist, sand, steam fog, ice fog, and snow. As smoke and dust particles gather in relatively dry air, haze occurs.

Haze pollution is often associated with the burning of biomass, including forest fires, agricultural burning, and the combustion of fossil fuels. Forest fires, whether natural or human-induced, can release significant amounts of smoke and pollutants into the atmosphere, resulting in regional or even transboundary haze events. Agricultural practices like slash-and-burn techniques, commonly used for land clearing, can also contribute to haze pollution.

What Are The Laws And Regulations For Controlling Haze Pollution In Canada?

  • Most haze pollutants are formed as a result of atmospheric emissions. The legislation known as the Clean Air Act (now CEPA) was signed into law by the federal government in 1971, establishing rules for ambient air quality. The legislation is the first of its kind, and it gives the national government the authority to launch programs connected to air pollution assessment, define air quality objectives, and establish standards related to the source.
  • Following the federal government, provincial governments became the first to implement air quality legislation. The Air Pollution Control Act of 1963 was the first to define air pollution standards in Ontario. The legislation establishes limit amounts for 13 pollutants emitted by stationary pollution sources. Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Labrador are two more provinces with regulated impingement concentration points. Recent air quality restrictions have been established by implementing National Ambient Air Quality Objectives (NAAQOs) and Canada Wide Standards at the provincial and federal government levels. Local governments frequently have air rules and goals that mirror national ones.
Pollutant Averaging Time Maximum Desirable Level Maximum Acceptable Level Maximum Tolerable Level
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Annual 11 ppb 23 ppb
24 hours 57 ppb 115 ppb 306 ppb
1 hour 172 ppb 334 ppb
Total Suspended Particulate (TSP) Annual 60 µg/m3 70µg/m3
24 hours 120µg/m3 400 µg/m3
Carbon Monoxide (CO) 8 hours 5 ppm 13 ppm 17 ppm
1 hour 13 ppm 31 ppm
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) Annual 32 ppb 53 ppb
24 hours 106 ppb 160 ppb
1 hour 213 ppb 532 ppb
Ozone (O3) Annual

15 ppb
24 hours 15 ppb 25 ppb
1 hour 51 ppb 82 ppb 153 ppb

Source

  • There is also a proposal to implement emission standards via the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards, Air Management Zones, and Base-Level Industrial Standards. The Canadian Wide Standards establish limitations for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone at 30g/m3 over 24 hours and 65 ppb over 8 hours. Near the end of 2010, the United States and Canada committed under the Ozone Annex to reduce transboundary smog. This resulted in a 44% reduction in NOx. Quebec and Ontario, located in Canada’s industrial heartlands, were scheduled to reduce emissions.
  • The Multi-sector Air Pollutants Regulations were implemented in 2016 as a component of the federal government’s contribution to establishing the Air Quality Management System. This is the first time significant industrial sites in Canada will be subject to obligatory national air pollution emission limits. The federal government recently released a set of non-regulatory tools to control air pollution from different industries and equipment kinds. The federal government continues collaborating with provinces, territories, and stakeholders to establish more severe Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS the standards) to promote air quality improvements across the country. More severe PM2.5 and O3 criteria have been in force since 2015 and 2020, respectively.

The Haze Pollution And The Present Situation: The Arctic Haze Phenomenon

For over a half-century, the Alaskan Arctic and Canada have been experiencing plagued by a haze of unknown origin. The early thought was that it came from either dust falling from riverbanks or exposed ice seeding ice crystals. Chemical studies revealed that humans caused it. The haze contained a higher concentration of sulfate and particle organic materials. Other minor components were NOX species, ammonium, dust, and black carbon.

The existence of heavy metals indicated the presence of industrial pollutants. The haze was first measured using an aircraft flying vertically across Alaska using a handheld photometer.

What Are The Technologies And Procedures For Controlling Haze Pollution?

Canada and the United States have agreed to work together to address air quality challenges. Among the collaborative efforts undertaken is the passage of laws establishing air quality monitoring by ground-based air monitoring and remote sensing. For example, the Canada-United States Border Air Quality Strategy, which member nations’ environment ministers implemented, introduced programs for air quality improvement and accompanying creative techniques. Transboundary trade of limited NOX and SO2 emissions is one innovative strategy. The program’s ultimate goal is to reduce the general loading of haze pollution precursors into the atmosphere.

Prevention And Control Mechanisms

Wearing facial masks, staying indoors, using air cleaners, and taking emergency steps are all preventive health measures for haze pollution. Indoor particle levels are reduced by air cleaners equipped with efficient filters. However, the air cleaner must be tuned following the surrounding indoor environment.

Potential buyers of air purifiers face immediate hurdles due to their economic condition. Personal protection using facial masks avoids the primary cost issues related to air cleaners. There is a requirement for public education to improve awareness of the suggested cover, when to use it, and when it needs to be replaced. The decision to close polluting facilities is influenced by immediate local, health, and environmental problems and economic, transportation, and social factors.

One can limit the encounter with haze pollution and its possible health impacts by doing the following:

HAZE POLLUTION graph

  • When haze levels are high, avoid or restrict intense outdoor activity. Instead, choose indoor activities.
  • Avoid or limit exercise near congested areas, especially during rush hour.
  • Take extra measures if there is smoke from a forest fire.
  • If you have heart or respiratory problems, always take your medication with you.
  • If you’re experiencing worries regarding your health or a family member’s health, consult a family doctor or health care professional.

Bottom Line

“Haze pollution” refers to smoke from a land and forest fire that has such negative impacts as to jeopardize human health, injure living resources and ecosystems, and material property, as well as degrade or impede amenities and other authorized uses of the environment.

In 1971, Canada’s national government passed the Clean Air Act to regulate the quality of the country’s air. In 2010, the United States and Canada decided on the Ozone Annex to reduce transboundary pollution. In 1979 Europe and North America adopted the Agreement on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. Some methods for measuring haze pollution levels include remote sensing and ground-based observations.

The Arctic haze phenomena have provided essential foundations for taking action against anthropogenic emissions, notably those from industrial operations. The results of chemical fingerprinting revealed that the precursor elements were SO2, NOX, metal traces, and POM. Though health impacts are apparent, no health issue has been linked to a specific pollutant type.

Also ReadIntroduction To Air Pollution

Author

  • Dr. Tanushree Kain

    Tanushree is a passionate Environmentalist with a Doctorate in Environmental Sciences. She is also a Gold medalist in Master of Science (M.Sc), Environmental Sciences. She has 6 years of experience as a guest faculty in Environmental Sciences. With her combination of technical knowledge and research expertise, she can create clear, accurate, and engaging content that helps users get the maximum information regarding environmental topics.

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