Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the questions below to review the responses.

A non-profit society representing a broad spectrum of the community, including the public, local and provincial government agencies, industry, academia, community groups, health agencies, commercial and transportation sectors. PGAIR works towards continuous improvement of the air quality within the Prince George airshed, and coordinates various programs and communication initiatives in support of this effort.

A formal cooperative airshed management process began in 1995 when the Prince George Airshed Technical Management Committee formed to develop the management plan for the city, Prince George Air Quality Management Plan – Phase One. Members of this committee included the City of Prince George, Regional District of Fraser Fort George, and the former Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Parks.

In 1998, the Prince George Airshed Technical Management Committee transitioned into the Prince George Air Quality Implementation Committee to implement the Phase One Plan. This same committee developed the Prince George Air Quality Management Plan – Phase Two in 2006.

The City of Prince George established the Mayor's Task Force on Air Quality in 2006 to independently examine the progress being made toward improving the air quality in Prince George.  One of the recommendations of this review was to replace the current air quality management structure with a single cooperative Roundtable the provided opportunity for a range of interests to be represented.  PGAIR was subsequently established.

PACHA, or People's Action Committee for Healthy Air, is a citizen-run watchdog group with two stated goals:

  • effect improvement in air quality in the airshed of Prince George; and,
  • promote understanding about the environmental and economic impacts of activities and policies regarding the air quality within the airshed.

PACHA is a member of PGAIR.

For more information, please visit the PACHA website.

When in effect, Air Quality Advisories are available at the following locations:

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Advisory webpage 


Environment Canada and Climate Change

Public Weather Alerts for BC

Prince George local forecast webpage


Facebook Page

An airshed is an area where the movement of air (and pollutants) can be confined by topography (hills and valleys) and weather conditions (especially wind speed and direction). A mountain valley is a common geographic boundary of airsheds in British Columbia. The size and shape of airsheds constantly change with the weather. Airshed are largest when the atmosphere is turbulent and dispersive and smallest when the atmosphere is still and stable.

The Prince George airshed is generally considered to run from the northern city limits, south as far as the end of the BCR site, west to the western edge of Beaverly, and east as far as Tabor Lake. View the Prince George Airshed map for visual reference.

A temperature inversion occurs when the air near the ground surface is cooler than the air above. Warm air above the cool air acts like a lid. Pollutants released into the air become trapped at the surface and within the air that we breathe. Temperature inversions occur when the atmosphere is calm.  They tend to be strongest and most common at night and during the fall and winter when daylight hours are short.

Ambient air quality typically refers to the outdoor air that is away from direct sources of pollution.

Air quality advisories are not issued for odorous compounds. Managing odours to minimize the effect on the public is a challenging task. People exposed to the same odour have a wide range of reactions. For example, some people find the smell of a bakery pleasant, while others find it nauseating.

Total reduced sulphur (TRS) is a group of odorous compounds that are commonly measured in the Prince George airshed. The human nose can detect TRS compounds at very low concentrations.

Air quality advisories are issued for the following pollutants that are known to have negative implications to public health and the environment: particulate matter (PM2.5 or PM10), ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO).  In Prince George, air quality advisories have always been caused by elevated concentrations of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10).

Advisories are issued when pollutant concentrations approach or exceed their short-term provincial objectives and the air quality is expected to remain poor.

It is possible for TRS to be elevated at the same time as other pollutants that would trigger an advisory (see FAQ: What is a temperature inversion?). It is also possible for TRS to be elevated while other pollutant concentrations are low.

Point source pollution is emitted from large single, identifiable emission sources such as an industrial stack. These types of pollutant sources are easier to measure and characterize.

Non-point source pollution originates from many diffuse sources that are difficult to quantify. Examples of non-point source pollution include: unpaved surfaces that release dust when it is windy, vehicle emissions, and residential wood smoke. The combined effect of non-point source pollution adds up to a significant amount of the total emissions.

Air pollution can be dangerous in two ways: through extended exposure and through high dosage. It will depend on your personal health situation and your age. Be alert to Air Quality Advisories if you have a history of respiratory problems such as asthma, are elderly, or caring for young children.

Yes, City residents are allowed to install a wood stove. Every new or replacement woodstove installed must meet Canadian or US particulate emission standard requirements. You should also check with your insurer to make sure your house will allow a wood stove because of the associated fire hazards.

Yes, any time your car is operating but at a standstill, it is idling. To reduce or eliminate idling, consider parking and ordering inside the store, especially when the drive-through is busy.

There are many small steps that can make a big difference if we all do our part. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the wealth of news and information about air quality, the environment, climate change and related issues. The best way to do your part is to ask yourself, how do I contribute to air pollution? And the best answer is to think about your actions in terms of efficiency.

  • Is your vehicle maintained to be fuel efficient?
  • Can you find alternatives or reduce the amount you drive?
  • Could you take the bus, bike or walk to work or school?
  • Be aware of and avoid idling your vehicle.
  • Run more than one errand when you must use your vehicle.
  • Walk into coffee shops and restaurants instead of using their drive-through service.
  • Does your fireplace or wood stove meet regulations?
  • Are you burning dry, seasoned firewood?
  • Do you compost garden waste and organic material?
  • Turn down your thermostat.
  • Make sure your house and windows are well insulated.
  • Recycle.
  • Use a ceiling fan rather than an air conditioner.
  • Make sure your wood-burning devices, barbecues and gas-powered household equipment (e.g. lawnmowers) are kept clean and in good working order to reduce emissions.