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Implementing the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) in Alberta

Implementing the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) in Alberta. Bob Myrick Alberta Environment September 2, 2011. Why is Alberta adopting the AQHI?. Direction from the Minister Implement the AQHI in Alberta and also retain advantages of Alberta’s former Air Quality Index

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Implementing the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) in Alberta

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  1. Implementing theAir Quality Health Index (AQHI)in Alberta Bob Myrick Alberta Environment September 2, 2011

  2. Why is Alberta adopting the AQHI? • Direction from the Minister • Implement the AQHI in Alberta and also retain advantages of Alberta’s former Air Quality Index • Driven by stakeholder interest • the need for consistency across the country • Collaborating with federal government to make the AQHI more useful for Alberta

  3. What is the AQHI? • A tool designed to help you understand what the air quality around you means to your health • It will provide you with the information you need to protect your health by: • limiting short-term exposure to air pollution during air quality events • adjusting your activity levels during air pollution events

  4. What is the AQHI? • Also provide advice on how you can improve the quality of the air you breathe • especially in urban areas • Uses a scale of 1 to 10+ (similar to the UV index) • Implemented across Canada

  5. Air Quality Health Index Red Deer 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 + Risk: Low Moderate High Very High (1 - 3) (4 - 6) (7 - 10) (Above 10) Current 2 Low Risk Observed at 1:00 PM MDT Tuesday 19 April 2011 • At-Risk Population • Enjoy your usual outdoor activities. • Find out if you are at risk. • General Population • Ideal air quality for outdoor activities. What is the AQHI? • Provides current air quality conditions www.airhealth.ca

  6. Forecast Maximums Issued at 4:00 AM MDT Tuesday 19 April 2011 Tuesday Tuesday Night Wednesday 2 Low Risk 5 Moderate Risk 2 Low Risk Health Message Health Message Health Message Who is at risk? People with heart and lung conditions are most affected by air pollution. To find out if you are at risk, consult the health guide, your physician, or your local health authority. Visit the national AQHI Web site to learn more about the AQHI. Did you know…? To reduce air pollution, you should limit the use of small gas-powered machines such as lawnmowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws and snow-blowers. What is the AQHI? • Provides an air quality forecast www.airhealth.ca

  7. Standard AQHI Messaging

  8. What improvements are being made for Alberta? • Better account for rapidly changing air quality (e.g. forest fire smoke) • The AQHI value will change when there is an exceedance of an Alberta air quality objective • Because of our energy-based economy, more pollutants need to be included • Sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, total reduced sulphur • Contain special community-based messaging for odours and visibility

  9. The National AQHI • Based a three hour rolling average of ozone, fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide AQHI=1000/10.4*(EXP(0.000871*NO2)-1 +EXP(0.000537*O3)-1 +EXP(0.000487*PM2.5)-1))

  10. “Trumping” the AQHI • If Alberta’s one-hour Ambient Air Quality Objectives are exceeded: • the AQHI value will be replaced with the a value of 7 or greater and air quality will be rated as High Risk • The AQHI will respond quicker to rapidly changing air quality • forest fire smoke (high PM) • smog events (high ozone)

  11. Messaging for Odour and Visibility • While you may detect an odour or change in visibility or clarity, enjoy your outdoor activities unless you experience symptoms. • This additional messaging will be added if: • the AQHI is Low or Moderate Risk; and • the levels of pollutants exceed odour or visibility thresholds • Community level messaging will be issued during visibility and major odour events

  12. Implementation in Alberta • AQHI is reported at 22 communities as of July 4, 2011 • Environment Canada is forecasting the AQHI at 5 locations • Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Fort McMurray and Fort McKay • Other areas of Alberta will have a forecast later in the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012

  13. Fort McKay Syncrude UE1 Fort Chipewyan Wood Buffalo Environmental Association Fort McMurray-(PM) Fort McMurray-(AV) Anzac Wood Buffalo Stations Peace Airshed Zone Association Beaverlodge Grande Prairie Lakeland Industry and Community Association Fort Air Partnership Cold Lake Bruderheim Fort Saskatchewan Lamont Edmonton East St. Lina Edmonton Central Elk Island Hightower Ridge Edmonton South Steeper Alberta Capital Airshed Alliance West Central Airshed Society Tomahawk Genesee Red Deer Caroline Parkland Airshed Management Zone Edmonton & Area Stations Legend AQHI Reporting Stations Other Ambient Stations Airsheds Calgary Northwest Palliser Airshed Society Calgary Central Calgary Region Airshed Zone Medicine Hat Lethbridge * Stations include Alberta Environment, Environment Canada, and Airshed ambient stations, but not Industry stations. AlbertaStations

  14. Stakeholder Involvement • Quick data submission from airsheds • AENV and AH&W can educate stakeholders • Stakeholders can, in turn, educate local stakeholders and the public

  15. Public launch – July 13

  16. Advertising • Advertising campaign – July/August and November: • Radio (link to radio) • Television (link to TV) • Newspapers • Key Messages • Air quality affects everyone • Some people will experience a greater health impact • There are actions you can take to protect your health

  17. Summary • AQHI is now available to Albertans • Alberta Environment web site (www.airquality.alberta.ca) • Environment Canada web site (www.airhealth.ca) • The Weather Network (www.theweathernetwork.com) • Public launch July 13 – advertising campaign • The Alberta AQHI is an improved version • Need stakeholder support for effective delivery • Other provinces are watching Alberta’s progress • AQHI Video (The Weather Network) • Contact Bob.Myrick@gov.ab.ca

  18. Questions?

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