Air Pollution Environmental Impact Assessment

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Environmental Impact Assessment

What is an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for? Many of them examine socio-economic and environmental impacts of a new industrial project, both by itself and in conjunction with the other industries in the area. One should address legislation regarding the protection of the environment such as air and water, climate change, public lands, plants, animals and historical resources.

EIAs also concern themselves with preserving commercial resources - for example fisheries, pipelines, conservation of mineral resources and transportation. An EIA relies on input from a variety of sources including government and the public. What kind of air quality impact analysis normally gets discussed in an Environmental Impact Assessment?

Management of Air Emissions

Discuss the types, sources and rates of emissions expected for construction and operation of the project. This may include

  • Fugitive emissions, point, line and area sources, road and construction dust. It should also include upset conditions and routine flaring if applicable, as well as: Visible and smelly substances from the project
  • Greenhouse gases (GHG) expected from the project (include all stages). Give sample calculations for the major GHG sources. Provide the amount of GHG emissions for each unit of goods produced and compare it to existing projects carrying out similar functions.
  • How much GHGs will the project add to the regional or national total, annually? What is the company management plan for greenhouse gases and global warming impact?
  • Determine the nature and quantity of Criteria Air Contaminants (which cause health hazards, smog or acid rain) to be released.
  • How much acidifying substances will be emitted? Please include likely patterns and rates of deposition.
  • What technologies will be used to control air emissions? Please consider Sulphur Dioxide (SO₂), Hydrogen Sulphide (H₂S), Greenhouse Gases, Oxides of Nitrogen (NO₀), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), Particulate Matter (PM₁₀, PM₂₀), Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), Ammonia (NH₃), Metals such as Mercury (Hg) and Lead (Pb), and Carbon Monoxide (CO).
  • How will fugitive emissions (leaks) be detected, measured and repaired? These leaks can lead to significant odours if left unchecked.
  • Will there be any emergency flaring or upset conditions? How often and how long? What will be done to minimize these events?
The environmental impact assessment should discuss how gases will be collected and conserved and how vapour recovery technologies will be utilized. Include a discussion about the use of sulphur recovery, if applicable, as well as re-injection of acid gas and desulphurization of gases to be released to the atmosphere. These measures are intended to decrease sulphur emissions.

Environmental Impact Assessment of Air Quality, Noise and Climate

EIA Air Quality

Typical breakdown of these reports in an Environmental Impact Assessment start with Background Information.

Give information regarding the existing air quality and climate conditions such as:

  • Weather conditions that lead to worse air quality than average and how often they occur and
  • Recent measurements of SO₂, CO, H₂S, NO₀, VOCs, Total Hydrocarbons (THC), PAH, any specific hydrocarbons people should care about, heavy metals, particulates (including dust, PM₂₀ and PM₁₀), odours, ground-level Ozone (O₃) and visibility.

Also, Give measurements of existing noise levels at appropriate sites around the project. Then the EIA deals with questions about the project environmental impact.

  • What parts of the project will change the regional air quality?
  • Will air quality, odours and visibility become worse after the project, and will public health or environmental protection be altered in any way?
  • What will be the concentrations of the substances listed above become? Air dispersion modelling will be helpful here. Give details of modelling used, including source parameters, terrain and meteorological data used.
  • Provide any air monitoring information that will be relevant to this assessment.
  • What will be the impacts of air pollution? How will air quality impacts increase human exposure to contaminating substances? Describe food, water and inhalation.
  • What health concerns have neighbours and other stakeholders expressed over the project development? Compare estimates to established exposure limits to preserve the environment and prevent health problems.
  • Will deposition of particulates, nitrogen or acid increase?
  • Will Potential Acid Input (PAI) or acidifying compounds become a problem?
  • If two or more substances impact an area, how could that complicate things?
  • How will air quality affect other components of the environment? Consider things like soil, vegetation, water quality and habitat quantity and diversity.

Which parts of the project are highly affected by changes in climate? Changes could include severity and frequency of extreme meteorological events. How might these climate changes alter any project components which are sensitive to these weather elements?

What parts of the project stand to increase noise in the area? Is it important? A detailed examination should have these things:

  • People and animals that could be affected.
  • Calculate the approximate increase in noise levels that could occur during or after the project construction.
  • Will the higher noise levels matter?

How can the developers reduce or manage the environmental impacts of the project on noise and air quality? This environmental impact assessment discussion should address both the immediate and long-term concerns.

Air Quality and Noise Monitoring

What type of monitoring will take place? Describe how it will address project effects on noise and air quality and how monitoring can be used to determine the success of any mitigation efforts. Also include a description of any program for monitoring acid deposition and its effects.

These are the air-related terms generally examined in an EIA. For a more detailed description or terms of reference for an environmental impact assessment in your region and industry, it would be best to scour the environmental department of the relevant governing authority. It should include all aspects of the environment impact assessment, such as water, land/terrain/soils, geology and/or hydrogeology, many aspects of human health, vegetation, wildlife and other ecological disciplines. Most environmental impact assessments are thousands of pages long.

For help with the air quality portion of your company's assessment, please Call Barry J. Lough at Calvin Consulting Group Ltd. at at 403-547-7557 or email - barry.lough @ (remove spaces).

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