Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are important pollutants to monitor in the atmosphere due to health risks, odour issues, and environmental effects such as contributions to secondary pollutants. In collaboration with the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) and as a component of the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring Plan, the Edmonton-based Air Quality Science Unit of Environment Canada operates a semi-continuous gas chromatograph to measure ambient concentrations of selected VOCs at Fort McKay – Bertha Ganter air monitoring station (WBEA AMS 1). Recent results from 2014 are discussed for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene ambient concentrations. Analyses are described to gain further insight into the behaviour of these VOC species in the oil sands region.
Dr. Matt Parsons is a Senior Air Quality Scientist with Environment Canada as a member of the Air Quality Science Unit located in Edmonton, AB. In his current role, he has focused on a variety of air quality contaminants across the Canadian prairies, including atmospheric mercury, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter. Dr. Parsons has a background in atmospheric chemistry, earning his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in 2006, and subsequent postdoctoral work at Colorado State University and the University of Alberta.