2.14 Air Quality

Indicator 2.14 - Air Quality

Here you can see results from measurements of emission and concentration of airborne particles in defined monitoring stations near Alcoa Fjarðaál aluminum smelter.


a. Airborne dust, Sulphur dioxide (SO2), Fluoride (F), and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) emissions. 

PAH emission from production is not estimated as Fjarðaál aluminum plant does not produce anodes.

Table 1. Airborne dust, Sulphure dioxide (SO2) and Fluoride (F) emission (kg/ton of aluminum produced/year).

 Year Airborne particles
(kg/t Aluminum)
Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
(kg/t Aluminum)
Fluor (F)
(kg/t Aluminum)
501a 17a
0.42 11.32 0.34
2009 0.32
2010 0.38 12.31 0.31
2015 0.43
2016 0.36 14.08  0.25 
2017  0.30  13.75  0.24 

a: Figures for 2007 represent the total amount, but not the amount per produced ton of aluminum, because the smelter had not yet reached full production.

b: Disclaimer:  The results for fluoride and airborne dust are uncertain for the year 2012 due to lack of survey data on the emission through the chimney stack.  It is known that from mid-May to August the emission increased but data is not available to confirm this increase.

Source: Alcoa Fjardaál, 2009 - 2018.
Updated:  July 19th 2018

b. Concentrations of SO2, F, and PAH at established monitoring stations (1-4) in Reydarfjördur

Airborn dust from 2005 to 2017

Airborn dust 2017Figure 1
. Capacity of airborne dust at selected monitoring sites in Reydarfjordur. See the results for 2017 of the image here aside (click on the image to view i in full size).

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) from 2005-2017Sulphur dioxide (SO2) 2017

Figure 2. Sulphur dioxide in air at selected monitoring stations. Impact of eruption in Holuhraun in 2014 and 2015 in measurements. Measures station 4 due to volcanic eruption, and the value in this case only applies to parts of the year. 

See the results for 2017 in a picture here aside (click on the image to view it in full size)

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) emissions 2006 - 2017
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) emissions 2017
Figure 3
. PAH in air pollution filter in selected monitoring stations. 

See the results for 2017 in a picture to the side (click on the image to see it in full size).

Fluoride in air 2008 - 2017

Fluoride in air 2017

Figure 4
. Fluoride in the air in selected monitoring areas. See the results for 2017 of the image here aside (click on the image to view it in full size).

Mynd 1: Staðsetning veður- og loftmælingastöðva. Svartir þríhyrningar sýna mælistöðvar fyrir veður og loftgæði en gulir sjálfvirkar veðurstöðvar Veðurstofu Íslands.

Figure 5 Location of weather and air measurement stations.  Black triangles mark monitoring stations for weather and air quality.  Yellow triangles mark automatic weather stations from Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO).

Raw data

Source: Alcoa Fjardaál, 2018
Updated:  July 2018

Metrics, Targets and Monitoring Protocol

Metrics: What is measured?

  1. Particulate matter, sulphur dioxide (SO2), fluoride (F), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) emissions (in kg) per ton of aluminum produced. (Project effect: direct).

  2. Concentrations of particulate matter, SO2, F, and PAH at established monitoring stations in Reydarfjordur (µg/m3). (Project effect: indirect).

Monitoring Protocol

a. Continuous emissions monitor for one stack at each scrubber. Monitoring devices will record emissions from:

  • Pothouse stack, after scrubbing
  • Pot room ventilation air
  • Point sources
  • Stack dust samples collected randomly
  • Information will be collected with an annual "significant measurement" (EOL)
  • Airborn fluoride: continuous
  • Fluoride in dust, PAH: individual sampling to follow up on annual measurements
  • SO2: combination

b. Ambient air monitors, and precipitation monitor for both rain and snow.

  • Information will be collected with an annual "significant measurement" (EOL)
  • Measurements of SO2 and gaseous fluoride performed continuously, weekly for dust.


a. Need to re-evaluate all air emissions targets when new EIA is completed

     1. Dust (according to EOP): 

    1. Annual average pothouse ventilation, 1 kg/metric ton Al produced.
    2. Monthly average pothouse ventilation: 1.3 kg/metric ton Al produced
    3. Exhaust dust from point sources other than pothouse: <50 mg/Nm3

       2. Total Fluoride:

  1. Annually pothouse exhaust: 0.25 kg/ metric ton Al produced 
  2. Monthly average for pothouse exhaust 0.8 kg/metric ton Al produced

       3. PAH (EIA Comparison Report, 2002; Earth Tech, 2003): 0.01 kg/metric ton Al produced
       4. SO2 (EOP): To be determined after completion of EIA

b. Need to re-evaluate all air emissions targets when new EIA is completed

  1. Dust: < 50mg/Nm3 (EOP)
  2. SO2: Yearly average concentration < 20 µg/m3 (EOP) 
  3. Gaseous F: average 0.3 mg/m3 from 1 April to 30 September each year. Possibly 0.2 mg/m3 after 48 months of operation (EOP).

Possible response actions

Alcoa Fjarðaál and Landsvirkjun have enviromental policies that are set to respect the environment.
Alcoa Environment
Landsvirkjun Environment

Rationale for Indicator Selection

Air quality is an important human health issue.

Local residents are concerned that the smelter will adversely affect the local air quality and detract from the quality of life in Reydarfjordur.

The sustainability of the local communities is, in part, dependent on desirable living conditions and the quality of the local environment. Emissions from the smelter will have a direct effect on the air quality in East Iceland.