Having a Bad Air Day?

Written by admin, June 25, 2013

June 25, 2013 – Air Quality Health Index Makes Its Debut in Peterborough

With summer approaching Peterborough Public Health is recommending that residents use a new online tool called the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI).  The Air Quality Health Index is a public information tool that helps Canadians protect their health on a daily basis from the negative effects of air pollution.

“The AQHI is a health protection tool that 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” explained Shawn Telford, Public Health Inspector.  “In addition, it provides advice on how you can improve the quality of the air you breathe.”

The 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.  The following is an image of the index and where the risks lie at each number.

Though each number is associated with a risk level, suggested levels of outdoor activity for individuals are dependent on whether you are a member of the general or at risk population.  Groups considered at risk include:

  • individuals with existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions
  • the elderly
  • young children
  • those active outdoors (such as outdoor workers or athletes)

To find out if you are considered at higher risk of health concerns due to poor air quality, click here.

The Public Health wants to ensure that residents are aware that the AQHI is a recent initiative developed by Environment Canada, Health Canada, and Ontario ministries and is different from the previous Air Quality Index (AQI). The older version, AQI, reported air quality based on an array of pollutants and addressed each pollutant separately. The AQHI presents the immediate health risk of the combined effects of air pollution and is presented in a single scale (see above).

The following chart outlines the various health messages related to the AQHI with at risk population and the general population.

 

Health Risk

Air Quality Health Index

Health Messages

At Risk Population

General Population

Low Risk 1 – 3 Enjoy your usual outdoor activities. Ideal air quality for outdoor activities.
Moderate Risk 4 – 6 Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you are experiencing symptoms. No need to modify your usual outdoor activities unless you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.
High Risk 7 – 10 Reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also take it easy. Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.
Very High Risk Above
10
Avoid strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also avoid outdoor physical exertion. Reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

 

The AQHI for Peterborough is updated hourly by Environment Canada’s weather service and can be found by visiting www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca and clicking on the section entitled “My Home & Environment – Air Quality – Outdoor”. Residents are encouraged to follow Public Health on Twitter, @PCCHU, for all the latest health updates.

 

For more information about the AQHI, please visit www.ec.gc.ca.

For further information, please contact:

Shawn Telford
Public Health Inspector
(705) 743-1000, ext. 287