B.C. Air Quality

Emissions: An Introduction

Emissions are any kind of substance released into the air from natural or human sources — flows of gases, liquid droplets or solid particles. Not all emissions become air pollutants, but many do, causing significant health and environmental problems. The amount of air pollutants in an area depends on the number and size of emission sources, along with the weather and lay of the land (topography).

The main sources of emissions in B.C. are:

Point Sources

Point sources are stationary industrial facilities such as pulp and paper mills and factories that burn fossil fuels. They operate under ministry authorization (a regulation, permit, approval, or code of conduct), or under an air-discharge permit issued by Metro Vancouver.

Area Sources

Area sources are stationary sources that are not normally required to obtain a discharge permit from the ministry. They include prescribed burning, residential wood use, light industry, and other residential, commercial and institutional sources. Emissions from most of these area sources individually are small compared to point sources, but can be significant when considered collectively.

Mobile Sources

Mobile sources include motor vehicles mainly involved in the transportation of people and goods (e.g., passenger cars, trucks and motorcycles), aircraft, marine vessels, trains, off-road vehicles, and small off-road engines (e.g., agricultural, lawn/garden, construction and recreational equipment).

Natural Sources

Natural sources of emissions occur in nature without the influence of human beings, such as wildfires, plants, wildlife and marine aerosol.

For information on emissions in British Columbia, see:

2005 British Columbia Emissions Inventory of Criteria Air Contaminants (PDF: 861 KB/50 pages)

2000 British Columbia Emissions Inventory of Criteria Air Contaminants: Result Highlights (PDF: 441 KB/23 pages)

2000 British Columbia Emissions Inventory of Criteria Air Contaminants: Methods and Calculations (PDF: 1.2 MB/113 pages)


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