News Release Archive

People living in metropolitan Halifax-Dartmouth can now get daily
updates on the quality of the air they breathe.

Environment Minister Wayne Adams marked Earth Day by announcing a
new free service to the public. The Nova Scotia Department of the
Environment daily air quality index is now available by calling
either the department (424-2775) or the public weather line of
Environment Canada (426-9090). The index will soon be available
on the Internet.

"Metro has good air quality compared to other urban areas, but it
is important the people get the same facts as the experts," Mr.
Adams told a Province House news briefing. "There is no
substitute for an informed populace when it comes to
environmental protection," the minister said.

The department is planning on extending the daily service to
other areas of Nova Scotia starting with the Strait of Canso area
and industrial Cape Breton during the 1997-98 fiscal year. Air
quality is measured all across Nova Scotia. Six additional
stations have been added to the system in the past four years,
bringing the total to 28. Five of the newer stations have been
installed and operated by the private sector, which shares the
data with the department of the environment.

The metro air quality index will be calculated using data
gathered by monitoring instruments at two sites, Barrington
Street and CFB Shearwater.

The instruments at Shearwater will measure sulphur dioxide (SO2),
nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3). Barrington Street monitors
will measure the same conditions plus carbon monoxide (CO)
levels. Data from the monitoring stations will be automatically
downloaded to a computer system in the Halifax office of the
Department of the Environment.

Initially, the information will be transmitted to the Atmospheric
Environment Service twice a day during weekdays where it can be
heard by the public. The department is exploring the possibility
of a seven day a week service, especially in the summer months
when higher traffic volumes and atmospheric conditions are more
likely to contribute to smog.

In order for the public to more easily understand the
significance of the raw data, the department will use the
nationally recognized pollutant index scale which measures air
quality on a scale of zero to 125.

On that scale, the lower the number the better the quality of the
sampled air. The public information lines will also tell people
if the air is considered good, fair, poor or very poor.

Based on two years of testing, results indicate air quality in
metro will be in the "good" range for the vast majority of days.
For example, the Barrington Street station has recorded less than
100 hours of results that have not fallen within the "good"
category in the past two years. Most of those occurrences were
the result of heightened levels of ground level ozone (smog),
much of which was carried into the area from the northeast United

Stepped up measures to protect and improve air quality in Nova
Scotia have been a major part of the Department of the
Environment's efforts in the past number of years. "The air in
rural Nova Scotia is also cleaner today then it was just a few
weeks ago," said Mr. Adams. "That's because we have banned the
open burning of waste as part of our new solid waste resource
management strategy."

Other significant steps taken to improve air quality in the past
few years include:

- The development of new air quality regulations and ozone layer
protection regulations as part of the Nova Scotia Environment Act
of 1995.

- Requiring air quality monitoring by major industrial

- Working with industry to reduce "greenhouse gas "emissions.

- Ensuring that the environmental assessment process includes
steps to reduce air pollution for new undertakings.

- Working in cooperation with the Department of Transportation
and Public Works to ensure that the annual motor vehicle
inspection program includes checking emission devices.

The Metro Air Quality Index can be found by calling:

Metro Weather Line, 902-426-9090 (code 71), or the
Nova Scotia Department of the Environment, 902-424-2775.


Contact: Paul McEachern  902-424-2575

         Randy Piercey   902-424-5300

trp                  Apr. 22, 1996 - 3:14 p.m.