Biosphere Solutions

Calgary, Canada

Biosphere Solutions

Calgary, Canada
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Landis M.S.,Integrated Atmospheric Solutions LLC. | Patrick Pancras J.,Pancras Consulting | Graney J.R.,Binghamton University State University of New York | White E.M.,Maed Consulting | And 3 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2017

An ambient air particulate matter sampling study was conducted at the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) AMS-1 Fort McKay monitoring station in the Athabasca Oil Sand Region (AOSR) in Alberta, Canada from February 2010 to July 2011. Daily 24 h integrated fine (PM2.5) and coarse (PM10–2.5) particulate matter was collected using a sequential dichotomous sampler. Over the duration of the study, 392 valid daily dichotomous PM2.5 and PM10–2.5 sample pairs were collected with concentrations of 6.8 ± 12.9 μg m− 3 (mean ± standard deviation) and 6.9 ± 5.9 μg m− 3, respectively. A subset of 100 filter pairs was selected for element analysis by energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence and dynamic reaction cell inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Application of the U.S. EPA positive matrix factorization (PMF) receptor model to the study data matrix resolved five PM2.5 sources explaining 96% of the mass including oil sands upgrading (32%), fugitive dust (26%), biomass combustion (25%), long-range Asian transport lead source (9%), and winter road salt (4%). An analysis of historical PM2.5 data at this site shows that the impact of smoke from wildland fires was particularly high during the summer of 2011. PMF resolved six PM10–2.5 sources explaining 99% of the mass including fugitive haul road dust (40%), fugitive oil sand (27%), a mixed source fugitive dust (16%), biomass combustion (12%), mobile source (3%), and a local copper factor (1%). Results support the conclusion of a previous epiphytic lichen biomonitor study that near-field atmospheric deposition in the AOSR is dominated by coarse fraction fugitive dust from bitumen mining and upgrading operations, and suggest that fugitive dust abatement strategies targeting the three major sources of PM10–2.5 (e.g., oil sand mining, haul roads, bulk material stockpiles) would significantly reduce near-field atmospheric deposition gradients in the AOSR and reduce ambient PM concentrations in the Fort McKay community. © 2017 The Authors

Hidy G.M.,Envair Aerochem | Chow J.C.,Desert Research Institute | England G.C.,Environmental | Legge A.H.,Biosphere Solutions | And 2 more authors.
Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association | Year: 2012

The 2012 Critical Review Discussion complements Wilson, (2012), provides pointers to more detailed treatments of different topics and adds additional dimensions to the area of "energy". These include broader aspects of technologies driven by fuel resources and environmental issues, the concept of energy technology innovation, evolution in transportation resources, and complexities of energy policies addressing carbon taxes or carbon trading. National and global energy data bases are identified and evaluated and conversion factors are given to allow their comparability. © 2012 Copyright 2012 A&WMA.

O'Brien R.,Portland State University | Percy K.,Wood Buffalo Environmental Association | Legge A.,Biosphere Solutions
Proceedings of the Air and Waste Management Association's Annual Conference and Exhibition, AWMA | Year: 2011

The Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) monitors ambient air quality in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region of northeastern Alberta, Canada. WBEA operates 15 stations monitoring various chemical and meteorological parameters. VOC Technologies has maintained a dual-detector Pneumatic Focusing GC at one of these stations for over 1 yr. This single column/dual detector GC measures VOC and inorganic/organic sulfur compounds. A discussion covers the Flame Ionization Detector measurements in terms of speciated and non-speciated compounds; comparison with total hydrocarbon measurements as determined by combustion to CO 2 followed by reduction to methane in a co-located WBEA instrument; unresolved peaks; and increases and discrepancies in the baseline. This is an abstract of a paper presented at the 104th AWMA Annual Conference and Exhibition (Orlando, FL 6/21-24/2011).

Lynam M.M.,University of Michigan | Dvonch J.T.,University of Michigan | Barres J.A.,University of Michigan | Morishita M.,University of Michigan | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Pollution | Year: 2015

Abstract Characterization of air pollutant deposition resulting from Athabasca oil sands development is necessary to assess risk to humans and the environment. To investigate this we collected event-based wet deposition during a pilot study in 2010-2012 at the AMS 6 site 30 km from the nearest upgrading facility in Fort McMurray, AB, Canada. Sulfate, nitrate and ammonium deposition was (kg/ha) 1.96, 1.60 and 1.03, respectively. Trace element pollutant deposition ranged from 2 × 10-5 - 0.79 and exhibited the trend Hg < Se < As < Cd < Pb < Cu < Zn < S. Crustal element deposition ranged from 1.4 × 10-4 - 0.46 and had the trend: La < Ce < Sr < Mn < Al < Fe < Mg. S, Se and Hg demonstrated highest median enrichment factors (130-2020) suggesting emissions from oil sands development, urban activities and forest fires were deposited. High deposition of the elements Sr, Mn, Fe and Mg which are tracers for soil and crustal dust implies land-clearing, mining and hauling emissions greatly impacted surrounding human settlements and ecosystems. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Jaques D.R.,Ecosat Geobotanical Surveys Inc. | Legge A.H.,Biosphere Solutions
Developments in Environmental Science | Year: 2012

An ecological analogue system for biomonitoring the chronic and long-term effects of anthropogenic atmospheric emissions in the Alberta Oil Sands Region (AOSR) is described. This system has shown to be an efficient adjunct to ambient air quality measurements and has been previously applied successfully in western Canada. The essence of an ecological analogue system is the classification and identification of plant associations that are most sensitive to the atmospheric emissions of concern. An ecosystem classification and ordination was applied to sites of the most sensitive plant associations to identify detailed ecological analogue types (EATs). The EATs were then selected for use in locating field sites for the WBEA Forest Health Monitoring Program.Twenty-one major plant associations were identified within the AOSR with jack pine (Pinus banksiana)/bearberry (Arctostaphylos sp.)/green reindeer lichen (Cladina mitis) communities considered most sensitive. Among those, nine EATs most sensitive to atmospheric emissions were identified by classification and ordination techniques. These EATs possessed 10 specific ecological parameters necessary for field identification and mapping. Field sites were located near major AOSR emission sources, radiating outwards from ∼18 to 130km. A significant and high, nonlinear negative correlation (r=-0.98) was determined between the foliar inorganic/organic sulfur ratios in first year jack pine needles and the distance from the SO 2 sources. This foliar sulfur ratio metric coupled with other growth parameters provided a robust measure for deploying the ecological analogue system to monitor for the biological effects from the atmospheric chemical species of concern. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Percy K.E.,Wood Buffalo Environmental Association | Maynard D.G.,Natural Resources Canada | Legge A.H.,Biosphere Solutions
Developments in Environmental Science | Year: 2012

The increased development in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) has raised concerns about elevated emissions of air pollutants and the potential for negative effects on terrestrial ecosystems. A forest health monitoring program was established in 1998 by the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA). Field sites were sampled in 1998, 2004, and 2011. To date, while there is evidence of increased elemental concentrations in plant foliage with increasing predicted deposition levels, there was no evidence of a negative effect on nutrient cycling processes or forest productivity. However, differences in site factors confounded interpretations of the potential effects of air emissions and bioassays suggested that modeled PAI (potential acid input) values used in data analysis were insufficient to link cause and effect. As a result, the network of monitoring sites was expanded and enhanced in 2011 with updated science-based monitoring concepts to better support decision making and regulatory processes. A forest health approach to terrestrial monitoring was adopted and built upon the existing terrestrial monitoring network in order to determine cause/effect relationships between air pollution and forest ecosystem health in the AOSR. This enhanced design will also serve Alberta government regulatory expectations under cumulative effects management, and regional land-use planning. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

O'Brien R.J.,Portland State University | Percy K.E.,Wood Buffalo Environmental Association | Legge A.H.,Biosphere Solutions
Developments in Environmental Science | Year: 2012

Odors are a continuing source of concern to some residents in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo that includes the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR). Sulfur dioxide (SO 2), fugitive volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and a variety of sulfur-inorganic and -organic compounds, which in total are called total reduced sulfur (TRS), can be a source of this odor. The organic fraction of TRS is, as a general class, the most odiferous. To help understand this issue, the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) of Alberta instituted a program for the dual measurement of these compounds by pneumatic focusing gas chromatography (PFGC). The PFGC, normally equipped with a flame ionization detector (FID) for measurement of VOCs, was fitted with a parallel pulsed flame photometric detector (PFPD), and was deployed in 2009 at a WBEA ambient air monitoring station (AMS-2) near emission sources in the area. The instrument successfully measured a variety of hydrocarbon and sulfur compounds at the ppb level. After 2009, Oil Sands processing procedures were apparently modified in the AOSR, with a resultant 10- to 100-fold drop in gaseous sulfur compound levels, and a drop in public odor complaints. At that time, the PFGC was moved to the WBEA Bertha Ganter-Fort McKay air monitoring station (AMS-1) in the First Nation community of Ft. McKay. Here, in spite of greatly reduced sulfur compound levels, odor complaints were still received. The concentrations of sulfur compounds at this new location, however, were below the detection limit of the PFPD. To address this challenge, the PFPD was replaced with the more sensitive sulfur chemiluminescence detector (SCD). As documented in this chapter, the newly designed system is now routinely identifying and quantifying individual sulfur compound concentrations well below 100 parts per trillion (ppt). Such greatly enhanced sensitivity is necessary to address odors that still persist in the AOSR, so that odor types can be identified and communicated to stakeholders. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

PubMed | University of Michigan, Biosphere Solutions and Wood Buffalo Environmental Association
Type: | Journal: Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) | Year: 2015

Characterization of air pollutant deposition resulting from Athabasca oil sands development is necessary to assess risk to humans and the environment. To investigate this we collected event-based wet deposition during a pilot study in 2010-2012 at the AMS 6 site 30km from the nearest upgrading facility in Fort McMurray, AB, Canada. Sulfate, nitrate and ammonium deposition was (kg/ha) 1.96, 1.60 and 1.03, respectively. Trace element pollutant deposition ranged from 210(-5) - 0.79 and exhibited the trend Hg

PubMed | Biosphere Solutions, Esri, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Wood Buffalo Environmental Association
Type: | Journal: The Science of the total environment | Year: 2016

The 2011 Richardson wildland mega-fire in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) in northern Alberta, Canada had large effects on air quality. At a receptor site in the center of the AOSR ambient PM

PubMed | Biosphere Solutions, Desert Research Institute and Wood Buffalo Environmental Association
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (1995) | Year: 2015

Geological samples were collected from 27 representative locations in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) in Alberta, Canada. These samples were resuspended onto filter substrates for PM2.5 and PM10 size fractions. Samples were analyzed for 229 chemical species, consisting of elements, ions, carbon, and organic compounds. These chemical species are normalized to gravimetric mass to derive individual source profiles. Individual profiles were grouped into six categories typical of those used in emission inventories: paved road dust, unpaved road dust close to and distant from oil sand operations, overburden soil, tailings sands, and forest soils. Consistent with their geological origin, the major components are minerals, organic and elemental carbon, and ions. The sum of five major elements (i.e., Al, Si, K, Ca, and Fe) and their oxidized forms account for 25-40% and 45-82% of particulate matter (PM) mass, respectively. Si is the most abundant element, averaging 17-18% in the Facility (oil sand operations) and 23-27% in the Forest profiles. Organic carbon is the second most abundant species, averaging 9-11% in the Facility and 5-6% in the Forest profiles. Elemental carbon abundance is 2-3 times higher in Facility than Forest profiles. Sulfate abundance is ~7 times higher in the Facility than in the Forest profiles. The ratios of cation/anion and base cation (sum of Na+, Mg2+, K+, and Ca2+)/nitrogen- and sulfur-containing ions (sum of NH4+, NO2-, NO3-, and SO4(2-)) exceed unity, indicating that the soils are basic. Lead (Pb) isotope ratios of facility soils are similar to the AOSR stack and diesel emissions, while those of forest soils have much lower 206Pb/207Pb and 208Pb/207Pb ratios. High-molecular-weight n-alkanes (C25-C40), hopanes, and steranes are more than an order of magnitude more abundant in Facility than Forest profiles. These differences may be useful for separating anthropogenic from natural sources of fugitive dust at receptors.Several organic compounds typical of combustion emissions and bitumen are enriched relative to forest soils for fugitive dust sources near oil sands operations, consistent with deposition uptake by biomonitors. AOSR dust samples are alkaline, not acidic, indicating that potential acid deposition is neutralized. Chemical abundances are highly variable within emission inventory categories, implying that more specific subcategories can be defined for inventory speciation.

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