Ambient Air Quality Objectives

The following document summarizes Alberta's ambient air quality objectives.

These objectives are intended to provide protection of the environment and human health to an extent technically and economically feasible, as well as socially and politically acceptable.

The objectives are used to:

  • Assess compliance near major industrial air emission sources
  • Establish approval conditions for regulated industrial facilities
  • Evaluate proposals for constructing facilities
  • Guide special ambient air quality surveys
  • Inform Albertans on air quality through an air quality index
  • Report on the state of Alberta's atmospheric environment

Alberta Environment and Parks ensures that emissions from human activities will be minimized and that air quality continues to be better than the Ambient Air Quality Objectives.

These objectives are based on scientific, social, technical and economic factors that include:

  • Monitoring
    Can the substance be routinely monitored in the atmosphere?
  • Natural levels and fluctuations
    Do substances fluctuate as they enter the atmosphere from natural but uncontrollable sources (e.g. forest fires)?
  • Sensitive receptors
    Is one component of the environment or one stage in an organism's development more sensitive than another?
  • Substance behaviour in the atmosphere
    What reactions do a substance undergo and how long is the substance in the air?
  • Substance behaviour in the environment
    Can the substance bioaccumulate or biodegrade after entering the environment?
  • Technological availability
    What is the cost and availability of technology to control or avoid emissions?

The department has been reviewing ambient air quality objectives by multi-stakeholder consultation since 2000. Alberta now has air quality objectives for more than 30 substances that could be released to the atmosphere.

Any proposed new objective is posted for public review.


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Updated: Jun 9, 2016