Ever heard of the Central Burrard Inlet Area?
Probably not, eh.
Well, it's the area the Metro Vancouver agency says is bounded roughly by the Lions Gate Bridge to the west, the TransCanada Highway to the north, the Chevron refinery to the east and Hastings Street to the south.
So why am I writing about it?
I came across a recent report about the air quality in the area that revealed some interesting/surprising/concerning information about pollution.
Maybe you didn't know but Metro Vancouver has several air quality monitoring sites-permanent and mobile-strategically positioned around the inlet.
The main sources of air emissions are ocean-going vessels, cruise ships, harbour vessels, "non-road engines" (cargo handling and construction equipment), heavy duty trucks, locomotives, small aircraft, commuter traffic and industry such as refineries and bulk shipping terminals-oh, and commercial and residential sources, too.
So basically everybody.
Between July 2008 and June 2010, Metro Vancouver collected air quality data from the inlet and compared it to other areas in the Lower Mainland.
Here's what they found:
ù Elevated sulphur dioxide levels. In fact, they were higher in the area than the rest of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District. The largest sources of emissions came from marine vessels and the petroleum refinery.
According to Health Canada, exposure to high levels of sulphur dioxide can cause breathing problems in people with asthma. Exposure to elevated levels may increase hospital admissions and premature deaths.
The World Health Organization (WHO) published new guidelines for sulphur dioxide in 2005 that are more stringent than Metro Vancouver's current objectives to lower the emission levels.
During the testing, Metro Vancouver discovered sulphur dioxide levels exceeded WHO's guidelines "several times" at all but one location, which was Mahon Park on the North Shore.
ù Fine particulate matter levels were "periodically elevated" in the inlet area. Tests on several samples of fine particulate matter revealed elevated levels of black carbon (soot), vanadium and nickel. Black carbon is an indicator of diesel fuel combustion and/or wood smoke. Vanadium and nickel are tracers for marine fuel combustion.
_Flashback check: Man, I feel like I'm back in Mr. Brock's Grade 9 science class busting my brain over the periodic table of elements but I will continue_
So what's Metro Vancouver doing about all this gross stuff polluting our air?
The agency says it's working with Chevron refinery staff to ensure "reliable ambient air quality data communications" and routinely review sulphur dioxide "excursion mitigation procedures."
Furthermore, Environment Canada is developing emissions requirements for industrial sectors "which may require further emission reductions from petroleum refineries."
On the water, Metro Vancouver is relying largely on Transport Canada to enforce new regulations effective this year that says marine vessels in North American waters are required to meet "stringent emission control standards." The hope is compliance and enforcement of the regulations will significantly reduce sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, as well as fine particulate matters.
Port Metro Vancouver is also working on the pollution problem and introduced "increasingly stringent environmental requirements" for container trucks and the phasing out of older trucks.
There's a lot more going on than I have space for here. So I suggest you check out the report for yourself on Metro Vancouver's website. Check the agenda for the Oct. 12 meeting of the Greater Vancouver Regional District.
Mr. Brock would be so proud of me.