Air quality still better than before the pandemic in Montreal
Even though Montreal’s air quality deteriorated slightly in 2021 compared to the previous year, it remains however better than in the pre-pandemic period, from 2016 to 2019.
The City of Montreal's Air Quality Monitoring Network (RSQA), whose 2021 report was submitted to city council on June 13, recorded 27 days of poor air quality. last year.
This is six additional days of poor air quality compared to the first pandemic year, in 2020.
The 2021 results, however, remain better than those obtained between 2016 and 2019, when the number of bad days was between 29 and 43.
“It is certain that the signature of confinement, it changes the situation in 2020, even in 2021. We have fewer people on the road, more people who work from home. We had to expect a return of the pendulum as soon as we get out of confinement, and it is starting to become clearer, ”supports André Bélisle, president of the Quebec Association for the Fight against Atmospheric Pollution.
For the director general of the Regional Council for the Environment of Montreal (CRE-Montreal), Emmanuel Rondia, this assessment is “still encouraging compared to the thresholds that we had in the pre-pandemic years”.
According to him, we will have to wait to see the results of the year 2022 “to see what the trend is”.
Lower air quality in the East
The air quality index by sampling station in the RSQA report also shows that the air quality in the east end of Montreal was worse than on most of the territory of the island.
The Saint-Jean-Baptiste station, located in Pointe-aux-Trembles, near “industries de l'est de Montréal”, recorded ten days of poor air quality in 2021.
Rivière-des-Prairies recorded nine, a result that would be influenced in particular by wood heating during the winter, according to the report.
The other stations on the island register between two and seven days of poor air quality, with the exception of the Décarie interchange, where the number rises to 18.
“There are measures being taken and there are improvements at the industry level, it is encouraging. But we can see that there are still issues at the level of the East”, maintains Mr. Rondia.
Room for improvement
The director general of the CRÉ -Montréal believes that the proportion of days when air quality is deemed “acceptable” in the city remains high, which demonstrates “that we can improve actions to improve air quality”.
“What is somewhat cross-cutting in the report is that there are still issues related to wood heating, among others in Rivière-des-Prairies. And this, despite the fact that the City has adopted a by-law that prohibits the use of fireplaces that do not meet emission standards.
The report also shows that traffic congestion and road travel have a significant impact on air quality, says Rondia.
“Global warming (…) is worsening atmospheric conditions, causing air pollution to be concentrated. There are synergies that must be understood between the issues; smog, acid rain, global warming, it's all linked, first of all to fossil fuels and transportation,” adds M. Bélisle.
“As long as we don't will not attack in a determined way to eliminate fossil fuels, their production and consumption, these problems will continue,” he adds.
< strong>Air quality improved during the curfew
The authors of the RSQA report demonstrate that there was an improvement in air quality during the hours of the curfew imposed by the Government of Quebec, between January 9 and May 28, 2021, in comparison with the data for the same period and at the same times, between 2015-2019 and 2020.
“The decline anthropogenic activities and especially restricted movement” would explain the drop in fine particles in the air.