Characterization of air quality and fine particulate matter sources in the town of Hinton, Alberta

With concern in recent years about dust issues and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels approaching a new Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS), an investigation of air quality characteristics and potential sources influencing PM2.5 concentrations was undertaken in the community of Hinton, Alberta. The study was conducted for the period November 2013 to February 2016 using hourly concentrations of criteria air pollutants. Comparatively higher concentrations of PM2.5 were observed in summer (mean: 12.5 mg/m3, median: 8.0 mg/m3) than in winter (mean: 7.5 mg/m3, median: 6.0 mg/m3). The 3-year averages of annual average PM2.5 concentrations (8.1e8.9 mg/m3) were below the 2015 annual CAAQS value of 10 mg/m3. Exceedances of a 1 h Alberta Ambient Air Quality objective (58 times > 80 mg/m3) and a 24 h CAAQS (16 times > 28 mg/m3) were observed at Hinton for the study period and occurred during summer months primarily due to occurrence of forest fire episodes. A multivariate model positive matrix factorization (PMF) revealed five sources. Background dust and secondary aerosol was identified as the largest source contributing 68% to PM2.5 mass. Other sources included traffic (13.4%), an O3-rich source (12.7%), industry (3.1%) and a mixed source (3.1%). These findings offer preliminary information about contributions of different sources to PM2.5 at Hinton; and this information can support policy makers in developing appropriate management initiatives for reducing dust and secondary particulate matter pollution.

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