Fort Air Partnership (FAP), the organization that monitors the air local residents breathe, released 2021 second quarter Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) results today. The Government of Alberta calculates the AQHI using data collected at seven of FAP’s air monitoring stations (As the portable station was not in operation during Q2 of 2021, only six FAP stations provided data for AQHI calculations this quarter).
There was only one hour of high or very high AQHI rating for the entire calendar quarter. Overall air quality in and around Alberta’s Industrial Heartland was of low risk to health nearly 98% of the time from April 1 to June 30, 2021. The air monitoring station at Gibbons recorded the most hours of moderate or high AQHI results while Elk Island recorded the least.
As a comparison, results from the second quarter of 2020 are provided on the next page.
Air quality was better in the region in Q2 of this year compared to the same timeframe in 2020. In Q2 of 2021, there were 81 fewer hours of moderate risk AQHI and one less high risk AQHI hour when compared to 2020.
Fort Air Partnership has 10 continuous air monitor stations but these are located in larger communities within the Airshed. To provide additional monitoring coverage in other populated areas in the region, we have installed small sensors called PurpleAir to monitor for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the communities of Waskatenau, Bon Accord and Josephburg. We are planning to install three more in other Airshed locations. The left image shows a monitor mounted at the Moyer Recreation Centre in Josephburg. The right image shows a closeup of a sensor.
The PurpleAir sensors, donated to us by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), are small (3.5” in diameter), inexpensive, easy to install and operate requiring only a power source and Wi-Fi connection. In comparison, while a continuous air monitoring station is more accurate in determining fine particulate matter concentrations, they are significantly more expensive to build and operate. Although less accurate, PurpleAir sensors can provide a valuable assessment of levels of fine particulate matter in areas that do not have continuous stations.
PurpleAir sensor data is continuously collected, validated and available in real time on an AQMap operated by the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in partnership with ECCC. The AQMap shows PM2.5 concentrations from PurpleAir sensors and associated health messaging. Please note that data from PurpleAir sensors does not meet Government of Alberta regulatory standards and will not be used to make regulatory decisions, or to issue air quality advisories.