International Comparison of Urban Air Quality

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These indicators present and compare the air quality in selected Canadian urban areas with a population greater than one million to the air quality in selected international urban areas having comparable data.Footnote [1]

Fine particulate matter

The fine particulate matter (PM2.5) indicator is based on the annual average of daily 24-hour average concentrations. In 2014, among the selected Canadian and international urban areas, Vancouver had the lowest annual average PM2.5 concentration. Edmonton was the Canadian urban area with the highest annual average concentration of PM2.5 in 2014, a level comparable to Washington. The PM2.5 concentrations measured in 2013 and 2014 in the Canadian urban areas were generally higher than those measured in 2009, with the exception of Montreal where they decreased.Footnote [2] Between 2013 and 2014, annual average PM2.5 concentrations declined or stayed constant in most of the selected urban areas, except Stockholm, Edmonton, Toronto and Calgary, where they rose.

The World Health Organization's guideline for annual average concentration of PM2.5 is 10.0 micrograms per cubic metre and is presented within the chart for comparison. This value also corresponds to the 2015 Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standard for PM2.5. All selected Canadian urban areas had PM2.5 concentrations under the World Health Organization's guideline in 2013 and 2014.

Annual average concentrations of fine particulate matter for selected Canadian and international urban areas, selected years

Bar chart - See long description below

Long description

The bar chart shows the annual average ambient concentrations for fine particulate matter in micrograms per cubic metre for selected urban areas for the years 2009, 2013 and 2014. The World Health Organization's guideline for fine particulate matter is represented by the vertical line at 10 micrograms per cubic metre.

Data for this chart
Annual average concentrations of fine particulate matter for selected Canadian and international urban areas, 2009 to 2014
Urban area2009 (micrograms per cubic metre)2010 (micrograms per cubic metre)2011 (micrograms per cubic metre)2012 (micrograms per cubic metre)2013 (micrograms per cubic metre)2014 (micrograms per cubic metre)
Hong Kong, China32.831.835.029.532.729.8
Paris, France18.818.519.918.120.216.2
Rome, Italy20.018.220.918.717.015.7
Barcelona, Spain18.217.019.418.515.315.3
Amsterdam, Netherlands15.917.216.915.115.415.0
London, United Kingdom14.115.017.014.815.114.5
Washington, United States10.311.711.511.39.89.8
Edmonton, Canada8.613.69.17.67.99.8
Toronto, Canada5.86.26.56.58.38.9
Sydney, Australia7.45.95.76.78.68.5
Montreal, Canada11.010.410.111.49.98.4
Calgary, Canada8.111.410.98.48.18.2
Ottawa/Gatineau, Canada4.55.35.86.47.57.0
Seattle, United Statesn/an/a7.56.98.06.7
Stockholm, Sweden6.27.06.85.95.06.2
Vancouver, Canada4.84.04.14.06.36.0

Note: n/a = not available.

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: No data was available for Seattle in 2009.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) National Air Pollution Surveillance Program. Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong (2016) Air Quality Data. European Environment Agency (2016) AirBase – The European Air Quality Database and Air Quality e-Reporting. Office of Environment and Heritage of New South Wales (2016) Air Quality Data Search. United States Environmental Protection Agency (2016) AirData Download Data Files.

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Ozone

The ground-level ozone (O3) indicator is based on the annual average of the daily maximum 8-hour average concentrations. In 2014, Vancouver had the lowest annual average O3 concentration among the selected urban areas. Of the selected Canadian urban areas, Toronto had the highest levels, comparable to Boston. Montreal, Ottawa/Gatineau and Toronto had small increases in O3 concentrations from 2009 to 2014, while Edmonton and Calgary experienced small decreases. When compared to 2013, the 2014 O3 concentrations declined in eight urban areas (including Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal in Canada) while they increased in seven (including Toronto, Ottawa/Gatineau and Vancouver in Canada). These variations may be in part due to changes in meteorology and ozone precursor emission levels.

Annual average concentrations of ozone for selected Canadian and international urban areas, selected years

Bar chart - See long description below

Long description

The bar chart shows the annual average of ozone concentrations in parts per billion for selected urban areas for the years 2009, 2013 and 2014.

Data for this chart
Annual average concentrations of ozone for selected Canadian and international urban areas, 2009 to 2014
Urban area2009 (parts per billion)2010 (parts per billion)2011 (parts per billion)2012 (parts per billion)2013 (parts per billion)2014 (parts per billion)
Phoenix, United States47.047.748.548.648.147.1
Denver, United States42.945.648.048.847.346.0
Washington, United States36.843.139.541.438.739.1
Boston, United States33.937.036.636.738.337.0
Toronto, Canada33.134.633.436.033.934.1
Ottawa/Gatineau, Canada31.334.032.734.733.333.7
Stockholm, Sweden34.932.034.531.133.332.6
Berlin, Germany31.934.934.633.233.932.6
Calgary, Canada33.730.033.531.034.032.5
Paris, France31.131.330.229.831.431.9
Montreal, Canada29.030.930.431.632.131.4
Edmonton, Canada31.728.033.330.732.330.7
Amsterdam, Netherlands23.022.725.027.229.930.2
Hong Kong, China31.428.826.325.627.230.1
Vancouver, Canada26.526.426.527.524.826.6

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How this indicator was calculated

Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) National Air Pollution Surveillance Program. Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong (2016) Air Quality Data. European Environment Agency (2016) AirBase – The European Air Quality Database and Air Quality e-Reporting. United States Environmental Protection Agency (2016) AirData Download Data Files.

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Sulphur dioxide

The sulphur dioxide (SO2) indicator is based on the annual average of the daily 24-hour average concentrations. In 2014, Ottawa/Gatineau had the lowest annual average SO2 concentration of all urban areas. Montreal and Edmonton had the highest SO2 concentrations among the selected Canadian urban areas, with levels comparable to Phoenix. Sulphur dioxide concentrations for Canadian urban areas were lower in 2014 than in 2009. When compared to 2013, the 2014 annual average SO2 concentrations declined or stayed constant in half of the selected urban areas (including Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver in Canada), while they increased in the other half (including Toronto and Ottawa/Gatineau in Canada).

Annual average concentrations of sulphur dioxide for selected Canadian and international urban areas, selected years

Bar Chart - See long description below

Long description

The bar chart shows the annual average concentrations of sulphur dioxide in parts per billion for selected urban areas for the years 2009, 2013 and 2014.

Data for this chart
Annual average concentrations of sulphur dioxide for selected Canadian and international urban areas, 2009 to 2014
Urban area2009 (parts per billion)2010 (parts per billion)2011 (parts per billion)2012 (parts per billion)2013 (parts per billion)2014 (parts per billion)
Hong Kong, China5.44.55.04.24.74.1
London, United Kingdom1.41.31.31.31.31.5
Perth, Australia1.01.01.01.01.01.3
Boston, United States2.32.31.71.41.11.2
Denver, United States1.31.31.71.51.61.2
Montreal, Canada1.81.51.11.71.11.1
Edmonton, Canada1.41.11.10.91.11.1
Phoenix, United States1.41.31.21.41.11.1
Toronto, Canada1.10.91.40.60.71.0
Milwaukee, United Statesn/an/a1.21.00.71.0
Washington, United States2.62.22.51.20.80.9
Berlin, Germany1.01.31.00.90.90.9
Vancouver, Canada1.41.11.11.20.90.8
Barcelona, Spain1.00.81.61.11.00.8
Amsterdam, Netherlandsn/an/an/a0.80.60.7
Ottawa/Gatineau, Canada0.60.20.30.30.30.4

Note: n/a = not available.

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: No data was available for Milwaukee and Amsterdam in 2009.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) National Air Pollution Surveillance Program. Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong (2016) Air Quality Data. European Environment Agency (2016) AirBase – The European Air Quality Database and Air Quality e-Reporting. United States Environmental Protection Agency (2016) AirData Download Data Files. Department of Environment and Conservation of Western Australia (2010) Western Australia Air Monitoring Report 2009 (PDF; 2.3 MB). Department of Environment and Conservation of Western Australia (2011) Western Australia Air Monitoring Report 2010 (PDF; 2.3 MB). Department of Environment and Conservation of Western Australia (2012) Western Australia Air Monitoring Report 2011 (PDF; 1.8 MB). Department of Environment Regulation of Western Australia (2016) Air monitoring reports - Western Australia.

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Nitrogen dioxide

The nitrogen dioxide (NO2) indicator is based on the annual average of the daily 24-hour average concentrations. The World Health Organization's guideline for the annual average concentration of NO2 is 21.2 parts per billion and is presented within the chart for comparison only.

In 2014, Ottawa/Gatineau had the lowest annual average NO2 concentration for all selected urban areas. Calgary had the highest NO2 concentration among the selected Canadian urban areas. Between 2009 and 2014, average NO2 concentrations decreased in all selected Canadian urban areas. Canadian urban areas were well below the World Health Organization's guideline for all years. When compared to 2013, the 2014 annual average NO2 concentrations declined or stayed constant in nine of the urban areas covered (including Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa/Gatineau in Canada), while they increased in six (including Calgary and Toronto in Canada).

Annual average concentrations of nitrogen dioxide for selected Canadian and international urban areas, selected years

Bar Chart - See long description below

Long description

The bar chart shows the annual average concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in parts per billion for selected urban areas for the years 2009, 2013 and 2014. The World Health Organization's guideline for nitrogen dioxide of 21.2 parts per billion is represented by the vertical line.

Data for this chart
Annual average concentrations of nitrogen dioxide for selected Canadian and international urban areas, 2009 to 2014
Urban area2009 (parts per billion)2010 (parts per billion)2011 (parts per billion)2012 (parts per billion)2013 (parts per billion)2014 (parts per billion)
Hong Kong, China35.237.038.336.938.434.1
Denver, United States14.321.921.421.720.622.2
London, United Kingdom23.423.921.722.621.521.7
Paris, France22.923.123.122.422.521.5
Barcelona, Spain25.724.925.623.621.320.7
Phoenix, United States17.316.517.718.817.517.9
Amsterdam, Netherlands19.919.618.917.716.416.6
Calgary, Canada18.817.613.712.113.715.0
Toronto, Canada15.315.115.013.413.113.6
Edmonton, Canada16.115.114.114.014.713.1
Boston, United States13.612.614.311.911.811.0
Vancouver, Canada12.89.610.711.311.210.9
Montreal, Canada12.410.711.510.610.29.7
Sydney, Australia10.110.510.29.810.39.6
Ottawa/Gatineau, Canada7.76.77.16.86.96.3

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.94 KB)

How this indicator was calculated

Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) National Air Pollution Surveillance Program. Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong (2016) Air Quality Data. European Environment Agency (2016) AirBase – The European Air Quality Database and Air Quality e-Reporting. United States Environmental Protection Agency (2016) AirData Download Data Files. Office of Environment and Heritage of New South Wales (2016) Air Quality Data Search.

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