An analysis of air quality monitoring in cannabis facilities
September 1, 2022 By Saipriya Velur
One of the major problems with the cannabis industry is the lack of air quality monitoring. There have been numerous concerns related to air pollution from such facilities, and some of these concerns relate to odour and other gaseous emissions.
Having an air quality monitoring system can help identify various emissions from industrial plants. By using monitors, industry can monitor air quality on a real-time basis, providing accurate readings of emissions.
What are the emissions from a Cannabis Cultivation Facility (CCF)?
- Harmful gaseous substances
VOCs are short for Volatile Organic Compounds. They are chemical compounds that are released into the air from substances in our homes and even the environment.
Humans are responsible for releasing some of these chemicals, just the way plants and other living organisms do. These are classified as Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOC). Subsequently, with cannabis belonging to the flora group, they also release BVOCs.
In a study published in the Atmospheric Environment Journal(2020) titled ‘Ambient measurements of monoterpenes near cannabis cultivation facilities in Denver, Colorado,’ the authors have done extensive research on a number of` CCFs. It was noted that there was a large quantity of d-limonene (30%), β-myrcene (20%), and α-pinene (15%) being emitted.
It is also important to note that the BVOC emissions from cannabis vary in the following aspects:
- Cultivation practices — indoor/outdoor
- Stage of plant growth
- Environmental exposures
Cannabis growing facilities have, on a large scale, been seen as a regional odour contributor.
There have been numerous claims that describe the smell around a CCF. In the aforementioned article, there was an analysis of the chemical property leading to an odour. It was noted that the presence of dimethylsulfide was found in trace amounts.
Dimethylsulfide is said to have a strong rotten egg smell. Even though its trace amount was small, the intensity could vary depending on cultivation and environmental factors.
BVOC emissions are present in the CCF. These VOCs , when released into the atmosphere, chemically react with other air pollutants to form fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Although such formation of particulate matter is indirect, their accumulation could be harmful to human health and other vegetation.
Other harmful gaseous emissions
Much like particulate matter, there are other harmful gaseous substances that can be formulated from the emissions from a CCF. With certain BVOCs interacting in the ambient atmosphere with other air pollutants, it can contribute to the formation of some harmful gaseous air pollutants. These include:
- Ozone (O3)
- Nitrate (NO3)
- Hydroxide (OH)
Even if these emissions are indirect in nature, it is still important to monitor the air quality on a real-time basis. As high concentrations of such gaseous levels might cause a number of health effects.
Benefits of CCF emissions monitoring
Upon understanding the different emissions that can occur from a cannabis facility, it’s clear that monitoring the air quality in a cannabis facility has many advantages, such as:
Being exposed to toxic gases like CO2, OH, and NO3 can cause major health issues. Additionally, dust particles like PM2.5 and PM10 can also cause problems in human health. For this reason, several health organizations have put out certain standards for safe breathing conditions.
Cannabis plant growth
Having an air quality monitor can help identify the necessary environmental conditions for optimal plant growth. These include temperature, humidity, and other factors to help inform growers.
Getting accurate data on the various air pollution levels will be helpful in making future decisions. This also applies to company policies and local governance.
Building public confidence
The information/digital age lends itself to transparency, greater public awareness and consequent decision-making. Therefore having specific devices tailored to facility monitoring can help communities better understand environmental impacts of the industries in their neighbourhoods.
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