Sources of Particulate Matter in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region: Investigation through a Comparison of Trace Element Measurement Methodologies
Catherine Phillips-Smith1, Cheol-Heon Jeong1, Robert M. Healy2, Ewa Dabek-Zlotorzynska3, Valbona Celo3, Jeffrey R. Brook4, and Greg Evans11Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 2Analysis and Air Quality Section, Air Quality Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, 335 River Road, Ontario, Canada 3Analysis and Air Quality Section, Air Quality Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, 335 River Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 4Air Quality Processes Research Section, Air Quality Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, 4905 Dufferin Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Received: 30 Oct 2016 – Accepted for review: 09 Feb 2017 – Discussion started: 16 Feb 2017
Abstract. The province of Alberta, Canada is home to three oil sands regions which, combined, contain the third largest deposit of oil in the world. Of these, the Athabasca Oil Sands Region is the largest. As part of Environment and Climate Change Canada's program in support of the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring program, concentrations of trace metals in PM2.5 were measured through two campaigns that involved different methodologies: a long-term filter campaign and a short term intensive campaign. In the long-term campaign, 24-hr filter samples were collected one-in-six days over a two-year period (Dec. 2010–Nov. 2012) at three air monitoring stations in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. For the intensive campaign (Aug. 2013), hourly measurements were made with an on-line instrument at one air monitoring station; daily filter samples were also collected. The hourly and 24-h filter data were analysed individually using positive matrix factorization. Seven emission sources of PM2.5 were thereby identified: two types of Upgrader Emissions, Soil, Haul Road Dust, Biomass Burning, and two sources of mixed origin. The Upgrader Emissions, Soil, and Haul Road Dust sources were identified through both the methodologies and both methodologies identified a mixed source, but these exhibited more differences than similarities. The second Upgrader Emissions and Biomass Burning sources were only resolved by the hourly and filter methodologies, respectively. The similarity of the receptor modeling results from the two methodologies provided reassurance as to the identity of the sources. Overall much of the PM2.5 related metal was found to be anthropogenic, or at least to be aerosolized through anthropogenic activities. These emissions may in part explain the previously reported higher levels of metals in snow, water, and biota samples collected near the oil sands operations.
Phillips-Smith, C., Jeong, C.-H., Healy, R. M., Dabek-Zlotorzynska, E., Celo, V., Brook, J. R., and Evans, G.: Sources of Particulate Matter in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region: Investigation through a Comparison of Trace Element Measurement Methodologies, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., doi:10.5194/acp-2016-966, in review, 2017.