Fort Air Partnership’s Air Quality Health Index statistics for 2014 show air quality in and around Alberta’s Industrial Heartland was within air quality standards the vast majority of the time. Data used to calculate the Air Quality Health Index is collected at four of FAP’s eight continuous air monitoring stations.
FAP immediately alerts the Government of Alberta whenever an air quality standard is exceeded. They then determine what the environmental and health impacts may be. However, there are general government established guidelines for the public regarding how to react to various levels of risk.
AQHI ratings in the high risk category in 2014 were caused by forest fire smoke or winter temperature inversions. There was only one hour of very high risk in 2014. This occurred at the Fort Saskatchewan station during a November 13 temperature inversion event.
There were 12 days in 2014 (3.2% for the year) where the 24-hour air quality objective for fine particular matter (PM2.5 ) was exceeded. That same year, the one hour objective for PM2.5 was exceeded 13 times out of a possible 8760 hours in a year. Some sources of particulate matter, like industrial emissions, stay fairly constant year round. Home heating, roaring fireplaces and idling vehicles in the winter, and forest fires in the summer, contribute to higher levels of PM2.5
Alberta Environment is implementing a plan this year to reduce particulate matter in the region through regulation, education and awareness. Fort Air Partnership is supporting this by monitoring and reporting on PM2.5 levels against new Canadian standards.
Local daily and forecast Air Quality Health Index levels are posted continuously on FAP’s website. “It’s important to us and the public that the air quality data we collect is as transparent and available as possible,” explained FAP Executive Director Nadine Blaney. She noted the public also has direct access to near real time hourly readings from FAP’s eight continuous monitoring stations.