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An air dispersion model for the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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posted on 23.05.2021, 11:44 by Barbara Sylvestre-Williams
Air quality is a major concern for the public; therefore, the reliability of models in predicting the air quality accurately is of a major interest. The objective of this study was to develop an air dispersion model and demonstrate that it can be successfully used in place of or in conjunction with ambient air monitoring stations in determining the local Air Quality Index (AQI). This thesis begins with a review of existing atmospheric dispersion models, specifically, the Gaussian Plume models and their capabilities to handle the atmospheric chemistry of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxides (SO₂). It also includes a review of wet deposition in the form of in-cloud, below-cloud, and snow scavenging. Existing dispersion models are investigated to assess their capability of representing atmospheric chemistry, specifically in the context of NOx and SO₂x substances and their applications to urban areas. A review was completed of previous studies where Gaussian dispersion models were applied to major cities around the world such as London, Helsinki, Kanto, and Prague, to predict ground level concentrations NOx and SO₂. For the purpose of this thesis, Gaussian air dispersion model was developed, known as the Air dispersion model for the Road Sources in Urban areas (ARSUS) model, which is capable of predicting ground level concentrations for a contaminant of interest. The ARSUS model was validated against the US EPA ISC3 model before it was used to conduct the two studies in this investigation. These two studies simulated weekday morning rush hour tailpipe emissions of CO and predicted ground level concentrations. The first study used the ARSUS model ARSUS model to predict ground level concentrations of CO from the tailpipe emissions of CO for roads and highways located in the vicinity of the Toronto West ambient air monitoring station. The second study involved an expansion of the domain to predict ground level concentrations of CO from tailpipe emissions from highways located in the City of Toronto. The modelled concentrations were then compared to the Toronto West ambient air monitoring station. ARSUS model’s results indicate that air quality in the immediate vicinity of roads or highways is highly impacted by the tailpipe emissions. Higher concentrations are observed for the areas adjacent to the road and highway sources. The tailpipe emissions of CO from highways have a higher contribution to the local air quality. The predicted ground level concentration from the ARSUS model do under-predict when compared to the observed data from the monitoring station; however, despite this a predictive model is viable.





Master of Applied Science


Environmental Applied Science and Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Mehrab Mehrvar