Fort Air Partnership (FAP), the organization that monitors the air local residents breathe, released 2022 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.
2022 air monitoring results
The number of hours of air monitoring in 2022 was 55,611 hours. Of these hours, 94.9% were low-risk AQHI, and 4.8% were moderate-risk AQHI.
Just over 0.2% of the hours monitored were high or very high-risk AQHI. Wildfire smoke most frequently contributed to high-risk and very high-risk Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) ratings measured at Fort Air Partnership’s monitoring stations in 2022. Meteorological conditions leading to temperature inversions were the second largest contributor to high or very high-risk AQHI.
Low-risk AQHI relatively static over the past five years
As illustrated in the chart below, low-risk AQHI ratings in the FAP Airshed remain relatively static since 2019. The uptick in high and very-high-risk AQHI in 2021 was mainly due to wildfire smoke.
Air quality monitoring statistics
For all of the details and charts on 2022 air monitoring data, please see the 2022 air quality monitoring report. This report includes details on exceedances since 2018.
Through a special 2022 summertime air monitoring project conducted by Fort Air Partnership (FAP), in cooperation with Parks Canada, data gathered showed elevated levels of fine particulate matter, PM2.5, levels during the evenings. Campfires were the cause of the higher levels of PM2.5.
In the evenings, wind speeds drop, and many campers start and maintain campfires.
Parks staff have indicated the Elk Island campground was fully booked on weekends from May through Thanksgiving in 2022.
What and how we monitored air quality
A PurpleAir Sensor at the Park’s registration office monitored fine particulate matter, PM2.5, from May 5 to October 11, 2022.
PM2.5 can be harmful to human health. It is made up of very small particles, with a size of 2.5 micrometres or smaller. PM2.5 can be inhaled into the lungs and may cause symptoms such as coughing or may worsen existing heart and lung conditions. PM2.5 is an important component in calculating the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI).
“Our overall data proves that wildfire smoke in our Airshed is the leading cause of high-risk air quality when it happens. And fine particulate matter is generally the largest contributor to high-risk air quality during wildfire smoke episodes,” said FAP’s Executive Director Nadine Blaney. “The Elk Island Project demonstrates that campfire smoke can also lead to localized poorer air quality. We encourage campers and others using campfires not to leave campfires burning while they are not being enjoyed to limit the amount of fine particulate matter entering the air.”
For more details, see the Elk Island Project Summary.
FAP has ten continuous air monitoring stations in and around Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. The AQHI and near real-time data for every substance at every station are available at fortair.org. Information about FAP is also available by calling 1-800-718-0471. FAP’s monitoring and reporting on substances that affect air quality is transparent, guided by a scientific advisory group and driven by national and provincial standards.