Missing Air-Monitoring Data — FAP Response
April 19, 2007 I had sent an inquiry to the Fort Air Partnership, asking
them to look at the comments I had posted about air quality-monitoring data
that was shown one moment and then had been removed, and asking them also to
provide comments that I could post.
They responded with the following:
2007 04 20
Thank you for your email. I am glad you watching the data. That's why
You noted high Air Quality Index Readings out at Elk Island station.
This AQI number is calculated from the values of Respirable Particulate
Matter (PM2.5), Carbon Monoxide, Ozone, Nitrogen Dioxide, and Sulphur
Dioxide. In this case, there was an instrument failure of our
Particulate Matter analyzer. This resulted in unreasonably high values
reported for PM and for the AQI. The analyzer is currently in the shop
to be repaired. We expect to have a temporary replacement in place soon.
At the time of the high readings, an automatic alarm notified our
contractor, AGAT Laboratories. A technician went out to the site and
found that the instrument wasn't operating properly. Had there been an
actual guideline exceedance, Alberta Environment would have been
notified, and a whole procedure would have been in place to address
that. Since it was an instrumentation problem, the instrument was
removed for repair.
The data is sent hourly to Alberta Environment's telusgeomatics site.
(This is the same site that we link to in our "current data" page, which
reports data less than 45 days old.) Alberta Environment noted the
unusual readings and asked for an explanation, and after they were
satisfied that the problem was evaluated and properly assessed, Alberta
Environment removed the high readings, per their standard procedures.
There is a "popup" disclaimer on that site:
"DISCLAIMER: Data contained on this Web site are automatically
polled every hour from Alberta Environment and Airshed monitoring
stations and are intended for public awareness. The data have not
undergone quality control and quality assurance procedures and may
contain errors. The data on this Web site are considered "raw data"
and should not be used in published documents.
Data integrity and validity may be affected by instrument
malfunctions, connection problems, QA/QC requirements, instrument
calibration times or power failures.
Archived data that have been validated can be accessed at the CASA data
warehouse at http://www.casadata.org."
If data is known to be invalid, then it should be removed.
I hope that satisfies your questions about the high readings for AQI and
for how they were changed. If you have more questions about what
happened, I'd be happy to discuss with you further.
Please share with me your thought on this. Perhaps there are more
Acting Executive Director
Fort Air Partnership
Their answer appears to indicate that such fiddling with data is common
practice with them. They did not identify how many such instances of
data modification or omission took place and for what monitoring stations.
Thereby they left some of the
main questions posed in the concerns about such data modifications
The fact remains that the air
quality in our area is visibly deteriorating and that the Air
Partnership monitoring data provide no measure (or I have not been able to
find such data that may exist) of the rate of air-quality deterioration.