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Implementing the Air Quality Health Index in Alberta Richard Sharkey Alberta Environment.

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Presentation on theme: "Implementing the Air Quality Health Index in Alberta Richard Sharkey Alberta Environment."— Presentation transcript:

1 Implementing the Air Quality Health Index in Alberta Richard Sharkey Alberta Environment

2 What is the AQHI? A tool designed to help you understand what the air quality around you means to your health It is intended to 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

3 What is the AQHI? It is also intended to also provide advice on how you can improve the quality of the air you breathe –especially in urban areas It is reported on a scale of 1 to 10+, with higher numbers indicating a higher health risk (similar to the UV index) Being implemented across Canada

4 What is the AQHI? Provides current air quality conditions Air Quality Health Index Red Deer Risk:Low ModerateHigh Very High (1 - 3) (4 - 6)(7 - 10) (Above 10) Current 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. 2 Low Risk

5 What is the AQHI? Provides an air quality forecast Forecast Maximums Issued at 4:00 AM MDT Tuesday 19 April Moderate Risk 2 Low Risk 2 Low Risk TuesdayTuesday NightWednesday 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.

6 Standard AQHI Messaging Health RiskAir Quality Health Index Health Message At-Risk Population* General Population Low Risk1 – 3 Enjoy your usual outdoor activities. Ideal air quality for outdoor activities. Moderate Risk 4 – 6 Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you are experiencing symptoms. No need to modify your usual outdoor activities unless you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation. High Risk7 – 10 Reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also take it easy. Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation. Very High Risk Above 10 Avoid strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also avoid outdoor physical exertion. Reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

7 Why is Alberta changing the 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 –Add messaging for odour (H 2 S, SO 2 ) and visibility (PM 2.5 ) –The AQHI value will change when there is an exceedance of an Alberta air quality objective –The Alberta AQHI will better account for rapidly changing air quality

8 How will we improve the national AQHI for Alberta? National AQHI based on 3-hour rolling average and includes PM 2.5, O 3 and NO 2 Alberta AQHI will also include SO 2, H 2 S, TRS and CO “Trumping” in the case of exceedances of Alberta’s Ambient Air Quality Objectives (AAQOs) Odour and Visibility effect messaging

9 “Trumping” the AQHI If Alberta’s one-hour Ambient Air Quality Objectives are exceeded –80 μg/m 3 for PM 2.5 – 172 ppb for SO 2 –82 ppb for O 3 – 13 ppm for CO –159 ppb for NO 2 – 1 ppm for H 2 S or TRS The AQHI value will be replaced with the a value of 7 or greater and air quality will be rated as High Risk Will respond quicker to rapidly changing air quality –forest fire smoke (high PM) –smog events (high ozone)

10 Messaging for Odour and Visibility This additional messaging will be added if the AQHI is Low or Moderate Risk and the and levels of pollutants exceed the following thresholds: –25 μg/m 3 for PM 2.5 (visibility) –100 ppb for SO 2 (odour) –10 ppb for H 2 S or TRS (odour) Messaging will be issued during visibility and major odour events While you may detect an odour or change in visibility or clarity, enjoy your outdoor activities unless you experience symptoms.

11 What does this mean for Calgary? 2010 results –Low Risk 78.27% of the time –Moderate Risk 21.10% of the time –High Risk 0.55% of the time –Very High Risk 0.08% of the time How often would an odour/visibility message be issued in 2010? –660 hours (7.54%) How often would the AQHI be trumped? –14 hours (0.16%)

12 Implementation in Alberta Alberta Environment will be reporting the AQHI at all current AQI stations –23 locations The transition will take place in June 2011 on Alberta Environment's air quality website Environment Canada will begin forecasting the AQHI at 5 locations in June 2011 –Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Fort McMurray and Fort McKay Other areas of Alberta will have forecasting phased in beginning in Fall 2011

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

17 Airshed Involvement First and foremost – Data Submission & Transfer –EC requires data by 30 minutes past the hour –Many AB stations currently do not make this cut on a consistent basis –AENV will be making changes to speed data transfer Educating airsheds on the AQHI Airsheds can, in turn, educate their stakeholders

18 Communications Strategy How do we get from this… –AQHI=1000/10.4*(EXP( *NO 2 )-1 +EXP( *O 3 )-1 +EXP( *PM 2.5 )-1)) … to this –Is the air quality affecting your health? –How is the air affecting you today? –What is the air like in your community today?

19 Proposed Key Messages Air quality affects everyone Some people will experience a greater health impact There are actions you can take to protect your health

20 Summary National Air Quality Health Index will be implemented in Alberta beginning in June The Alberta version will contain improvements over the national AQHI Government will need stakeholder support for effective deliver Other provinces are watching Alberta’s progress

21 Questions?


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