Critical Review

The 49th Annual A&WMA Critical Review

Thursday, June 27, 2019 from 8:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Sponsored by: 


Level 2 - Room 206 B

Advances in science and applications of air pollution monitoring: A case study on oil sands monitoring targeting ecosystem protection​

Lead Author: Dr. Jeffrey R. Brook, Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto
Dr. Jeffrey R. Brook, is an Assistant Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto, Canada. Dr. Brook is a recently-retired senior scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Air Quality Research Division. He is recognized nationally as a leading expert on air quality and has helped shape policy through his research, activities on national committees, leadership in preparing science assessments, and advice to senior levels of government. Over the past 25 years, he has contributed substantially, frequently including lead roles, to many of the government’s science assessments.

Contributing Authors: Stewart G. Cober, M. Freemark, Tom Harner, Shao-Meng Li, Paul Makar, and Bruce Pauli, Environment and Climate Change Canada

Production from Alberta, Canada’s oil sands has grown significantly over the past three decades as has concern about its short- and long-term impacts on the environment, including local and regional ecosystems, and the local human populations. Despite knowledge on how to assess the impacts of human development and resource extraction in the oil sands region, but also in other environments worldwide, significant knowledge gaps regarding the magnitude, causes, and implications of present and future impacts remain. To better understand environmental impacts and changes in the oil sands region, an enhanced monitoring and research program has been underway for the past six years in northern Alberta. In partnership with the Province of Alberta, Environment and Climate Change Canada has undertaken a range of monitoring studies on the air, water, and wildlife, and key findings from this work are the focus of the 2019 A&WMA Annual Critical Review. 

Measurements from the surface , aircraft, and satellite platforms have been used to assess air pollutant emissions, their atmospheric levels, and transformation and deposition processes. Extended periods of high-resolution modeling have been conducted to improve the prediction of potential areas at risk of excessive acid deposition and the deposition of other oil sands industry-related chemicals of concern. An improved integrated water monitoring and assessment approach was implemented to assess the ecological health of the aquatic environment, including more sites within rivers and increased geographical coverage, increased sampling frequency, and measurement parameters to improve the potential for causal assessment. New measurements of contaminant levels and biological function in key aquatic and terrestrial species are providing information on potential wildlife impacts and possible connections to the oil sands industry. While the current monitoring program has added new understanding, unanswered questions remain and represent a long-term challenge for responsible management of oil sands development.The full-length Critical Review paper will appear in the June 2019 issue of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (JA&WMA). 

Hear the conclusions from Dr. Brook's extensive research on this topic AND the independent response from a panel of experts during the discussion section.

Invited discussants will represent the key stakeholder groups, including industry, Indigenous groups, provincial governments, NGOs, and academia. Comments also will be solicited from the floor during a live question-and-answer sequence to end the session. To complete the review process, the Critical Review Committee Chair will synthesize all of the discussion points into a single Discussion Paper that will be published in the October 2019 issue of JA&WMA.


Allan H. Legge, Ph.D., F.A.A.A.S., F.A.W.M.A., P.Biol., principal of BioSphere Solutions, formerly of the University of Calgary and the Alberta Research Council, and recipient of the 2017 A&WMA Frank A Chambers Excellence in Air Pollution Award.

Jason M.E. Ahad, Ph.D., research scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada and adjunct professor at l’Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS).

Calvin Duane, environment manager for Canadian Natural Resources Limited, and a member of Canada’s Oil Sands.

Monique Dubé, Ph.D., executive director of the Integrated Environmental Analytics & Prediction Branch in the Environmental Monitoring and Science Division of Alberta Environment and Parks, and the Science Co-Lead of the Oil Sands Monitoring Program working with her counterpart in Environment and Climate Change Canada.