B.C. Air Quality

Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)

Image: Air Quality Health Index logoThe Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) provides British Columbians with local air-quality information on an hourly basis. It can be used to protect their health from the negative effects of air pollution.

As a multi-pollutant index, the Air Quality Health Index is the first of its kind in the world. A new and dynamic communications tool, the AQHI offers a real and practical benefit to the health of British Columbians. They can use it to check the quality of outdoor air before heading off to work or play, be it over the next hour or day.

Learn how you can use the AQHI when you want to get active outdoors

In British Columbia, the Air Quality Health Index is available to more than 80 percent of the population in 14 communities — throughout Metro Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley, as well as in Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Prince George, Vernon, Victoria and the South Okanagan. The AQHI is easy to understand:

  • It illustrates the level of health risk with a number and colour scale of 1 to 10 or higher.
  • It labels the health risk as low, moderate, high or very high.
  • It provides the predicted air-quality health risk over the next 36 hours.
  • It provides advice on minimizing the health risk from air pollution.

The AQHI reports on the health risks posed by a mixture of pollutants, including:

  • particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10);
  • ground-level ozone (O3); and
  • nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

The rating for the AQHI is based on the combination of the health risks from each of the pollutants in the index. This method differs from the older Air Quality Index (AQI), which determined air quality based on the highest value of only one pollutant.

Air Quality Health Index Variation across British Columbia (PDF: 440 KB/13 pages)
This September 2010 report provides an overview of the  Air Quality Health Index and how it has been developed to provide British Columbians and other Canadians with an estimate of the short-term health risk caused by degraded air quality.

Urban areas in Metro Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley generally have a higher frequency of days with Moderate Health Risk on the AQHI scale (with the exception of Prince George), compared to Interior communities.

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