Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)

Air Quality Health Index Toolkit External Link

Toolkit contains information, resources and multi-media tools to help you launch an AQHI campaign in your community.


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What is the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)?

The Air Quality Health Index is a national health-based index to help individuals protect their health, and the health of people in their care from poor air quality. The new index was developed by Federal and Provincial governments in consultation with health professional to communicate the health risk posed by local air pollution conditions.

This tool is designed to help you make decisions to protect your health by limiting short-term exposure to air pollution and adjusting your activity levels during increased levels of air pollution. It also helps you understand your response to different pollution levels to help you plan and enjoy outdoor physical activities at times when health risks are low.

This index pays particular attention to people who are sensitive to air pollution and provides them with advice on how to protect their health during air quality levels associated with low, moderate, high and very high health risks. Find out if you are at risk.

The AQHI communicates four primary things:

  • A number from 1 and 10+ indicating the quality of the air. When the amount of air pollution is very high, the number will be reported as 10+.
  • A category that describes the level of health risk associated with the index reading (e.g. Low, Moderate, High, or Very High Health Risk).
  • Health messages customized to each category for both the general population and the ‘at risk’ population.
  • Current hourly AQHI readings and maximum forecasted values for today, tonight and tomorrow.
  • Follow this guide on how to use the AQHI External Link.

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How is the new AQHI different than the current AQI (Air Quality Index)?

  • While the Air Quality Index (AQI) has been reported for many years, this new Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) has been created with a different goal - to report on the health risks that are posed by different levels of a mixture of air pollutants.
  • Read more about how the AQHI and the AQI differ External Link.

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How is the AQHI calculated?

  • The AQHI is calculated based on the relative risks of a combination of common air pollutants which are known to harm human health.
  • These pollutants include:
    • Ozone (O 3 ) at ground level
    • Particulate Matter (PM 2.5 /PM 10 )
    • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO 2 )

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What is the scale for the new AQHI?

The AQHI is measured on a scale ranging from 1-10+. The AQHI index values are also grouped into health risk categories as shown below. These categories help you to easily and quickly identify your level of risk.

  • 1-3 Low health risk
  • 4-6 Moderate health risk
  • 7-10 High health risk
  • 10 + Very high health risk

More information on the scale and the AQHI categories External Link.

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Do we have the AQHI in Halton?

  • Pilots or tests of the AQHI have been carried out in British Columbia (2005 and 2006) and Nova Scotia (2006). An expanded AQHI pilot was launched in the summer of 2007 in the City of Toronto.
  • The pilot was expanded to the communities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Spring 2008 and the AQHI is now available in Burlington, Oakville, and Milton.
  • The Halton Region Health Department is working with Environment Canada and partners as part of the AQHI program.
  • View AQHI results for Halton.

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Will the AQHI eventually replace the AQI?

  • The existing provincial air quality index will continue to be issued concurrently throughout the duration of the phases of the AQHI introduction. The intent is that the existing AQIs will be replaced by the new AQHI over time.

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How can I find the current AQHI for my area?

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Resources

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