Northern Air Quality Issues

It is well established that forest fires can contribute significant amounts of CO2 and particulates (as well as other combustion byproducts) into the atmosphere. However, high baseline atmospheric CO2 levels are commonly associated with high population areas such as cities (which have high amounts of vehicle traffic and industrial emissions).

The 2014 year in northern BC has brought some of the highest temperatures on record, as well as some of the biggest forest fires on record (the current Tenakihi - Mesilinka Complex is over 53,000 hectares in size. There are numerous very large fires of note close to Mackenzie, BC (where Aretas Sensor Networks' main headquarters are located) including the Tenakihi - Mesilinka Complex (approx. 170kms distance).

As such, Mackenzie has been inundated periodically with smoke and poor air quality from these various fires. What's surprising though, is that we've measured a very significant increase in outdoor CO2 concentrations on days when observed air quality is very poor:

Recent CO2 Measurements in Mackenzie BC Recent CO2 Measurements in Mackenzie Normally, air quality in northern BC is beyond reproach. In fact, our "zero air" tests using zero air from an air scrubber compare favorably to the ambient air in the environment for various common pollutants (CO, NO2, Methane, VOCs, etc). Additionally, CO2 is usually within a few percent of expected atmospheric baseline values.

In our opinion, further study and measurement of the effects of forest fires on air quality are warranted. Similarly, additional monitoring is warranted to advise the public on air quality issues which can vary wildly even a few kilometers from a monitoring station.