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Tar sands pollute as much as a city like Los Angeles, study finds

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jan26,2024

Tar sands pollute so much that a city like Los Angeles, according to a study

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Other reports had reached the same conclusion , namely that the emissions declarations provided by the oil sands industry are underestimated. (Archive photo)

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New study finds Alberta tar sands production produces significantly more potentially harmful air pollutants than what is officially declared.

The report highlights that, in reality, the daily production of pollutants emitted by industry is equivalent to that of congested megacities like Los Angeles.

The Airborne data reveals levels of harmful pollutants may be more than 60 times higher than estimated.

The study New window) (in English), published Friday in the journal Science, measured concentrations of organic carbon emissions in the air by flying over the region and taking samples. These figures were compared to estimated quantities, prepared from ground data, reported by oil sands operations.

Researchers from Environment and Climate Change Canada and Yale University found levels 20 to 64 times higher than those reported by the oil industry, depending on the installation of tar sands.

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The chemicals included volatile organic compounds, considered hazardous to human health and listed on warning labels for products such as nail polish and paint thinner.

John Liggio, co-author of the study and researcher at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said the total production of these chemicals is roughly equivalent to that of all other human sources in the country, ranging from transportation to manufacturing.

Emissions levels reported by industry to the federal and provincial governments are generally calculated using #using a so-called bottom-up approach, based on estimates of the amount of emissions produced for specific activities in the oil sands, the study indicates.

Research using satellite imagery and aircraft measurements is known as top-down approaches.

In this case , researchers collected samples from 17 facilities during 30 flights in 2018.

The findings build on previous research that showed other types of pollutants, including carbon dioxide and methane, are also higher than reported totals.

Jeffrey Brook, an air quality expert and associate professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, says the new report shows that there is a whole category of air pollutants released in large quantities and largely, if not completely, excluded from official reporting.

John Liggio says the study can help the oil industry and governments better track what is released into the air. /p>

Reacting to the report, Mark Cameron, spokesperson for the New Pathways Alliance, which represents the main tar sands producers, said that the &x27; The industry measures emissions using standards established by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

He assures that the industry is eager to collaborate to explore opportunities to further improve [its] measurement methods.

Environment and Climate Change Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comments.

With information from Benjamin Shingler

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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