Air Quality Health Index
The Air Quality Health Index, or AQHI, is a provincial scale designed to help people understand what air quality means to their health. It is a tool designed to help individuals make decisions to protect their health by limiting short-term exposure to air pollution and adjusting activity levels during increased levels of air pollution.
The AQHI includes concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and ground-level ozone (O3), which are three compounds that can cause respiratory effects. Additionally, in Alberta, hourly pollutant concentrations are compared against Alberta’s Ambient Air Quality Objectives (AAAQOs). If an AAAQO is exceeded, the AQHI value is overridden with a HIGH or VERY HIGH risk value. However, odour causing compounds measured in the WBEA network are not considered in the AQHI. Therefore, this index gives an idea of air quality based on some pollutants, but it does not describe the potential for odour events.
The WBEA reports AQHI ratings from nine of its continuous monitoring stations in the Wood Buffalo region.
The community of Fort McKay has also developed its own Fort McKay Air Quality Index (FMAQI), based on the data collected by the WBEA at its Bertha Ganter-Fort McKay air monitoring station. The FMAQI is independent of the provincial AQHI, and includes compounds that can indicate odours, such as Total Reduced Sulphur (TRS), total hydrocarbons (THC), and sulphur dioxide (SO2). For more information on the FMAQI, visit: wbea.org/air/fort-mckay-air-quality-index-aqi/.
To find out more, visit: wbea.org/air/air-quality-health-index.