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Air quality in our region is good and usually easily meets federal objectives for main air pollutants. For most common air contaminants, our air quality is better than it was 20 years ago, even with the growth in population and economic activity we've experienced.

But the air quality situation in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley can be challenging. There are an ever-increasing number of sources of emissions spread across the area. Industrial operations, commercial facilities such as dry cleaners and gas stations, home furnaces, fireplaces, and the steady streams of cars, trucks and buses all generate air pollution.

Our region's geography and the weather conditions also contribute to the difficulties we face in ensuring clean air. Maintaining our air quality at the same time as our population increases can be a balancing act.

GVRD's role in air quality
Under provincial legislation the GVRD is responsible for managing the quality of air in the region. As part of its duties, the GVRD monitors air quality, controls the industrial, commercial and some residential sources of air pollution, creates long-term plans and inventories emissions.

There are thousands of sources of air pollutants in the Lower Mainland. These sources range from passenger vehicles to industrial plants, from bulk refueling stations to the furnaces in our homes. The GVRD tracks the output of the most common air pollutants through studies called emission inventories.

Air quality
The level of air pollutants in different areas of the Lower Mainland can be an important thing to know, particularly for those residents and visitors who suffer from respiratory conditions such as asthma. To help protect their health, the GVRD constantly monitors the air quality. GVRD staff use this air quality information to calculate a standardized measurement called the Air Quality Index which is available to the public.

The GVRD reviews past, current and predicted regional trends, and the latest science and knowledge to develop policies that will ensure the sustainability of future air resources. New programs seek to address the problems of local air quality and climate change simultaneously. These programs fall under a region-wide plan called the Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP).

Business services
Through an air quality regulatory program, the GVRD sets allowable emission levels for industries and businesses. Inspectors ensure compliance with permits and emission regulations. Voluntary emission guidelines and educational programs are provided to commercial and industrial operations to help them reduce air pollution.

The GVRD is also developing approaches to address air pollution from many smaller sources such as drycleaners and paper product manufacturers and is providing resources to help businesses improve the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings.

Consumer services
Concern over the quality of our air has prompted the GVRD to develop and implement programs of public consultation and residential emission reduction programs. The GVRD is becoming increasingly involved in managing climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG).

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Fast facts:

- Cars and light-duty trucks account for two-thirds of vehicle-related air pollution in the Lower Fraser Valley Airshed.

- An average vehicle emits 240 grams of CO2 per kilometre traveled. For a vehicle traveling 20,000 km in one year, that adds up to 4.8 tonnes of CO2 released into the environment.

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Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) - New way to protect your health. Check out this new website brought to you by BC Ministry of Environment. more

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