Citizen Science

November 2021

Air quality monitoring devices have been set up around Williams Lake to evaluate particulate matter (pm2.5) emissions. With the aim of gaining a greater understanding of how these pollutants differ, daily and seasonally, throughout neighbourhoods in the area; it is hoped the information will be useful in guiding future “Air Care” management plans.

Williams Lake on a winter day

Scout Island: Air Monitors have arrived!

A citizen science project has begun to collect data about the air quality in the Williams Lake airshed. A total of 14 Purple Air PM2.5 monitors are being installed around the community. These small white $300 devices are about the size and shape of a pop can or an oil filter.

Though Scout Island is responsible for setting up and maintaining the 10 monitors nearest the city, the Ministry of Environment is assisting with advice and setting up the other 4 at the East end of the lake, on WLFN land.

Pinnacle Pellet and Atlantic Power have purchased the monitors for the program, while climatology Professor Peter L. Jackson and his graduate student, Brayden Nilson, at UNBC are helping to calibrate and map the data.

The readings can be viewed free in real time at the UNBC air quality map site. The plan is to collect data through one full year until November 2022, to allow better spatial modelling of the fine (2.5 micrometers or less) particulate matter that can be harmful to humans. These sensors use a laser deflection method to count the air particles, be they ash, dust, or industrial emissions.

The information will not be used to form the public AQHI rating, nor to regulate industry. When all ten monitors are operational (end of November, 2021) there should be one at each of the following neighbourhoods: Westridge, Commodore, Golf Course, South Lakeside, North Lakeside, Glendale, Downtown, Scout Island, Lower Hodgson and Columneetza (to be able to compare/calibrate with the existing station there).

Check out UNBC’s website to view the data.

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