Difference between Air Quality Health Index and Air Quality Index

What is the Difference?

While air quality has been reported for many years, the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) has been created with a different goal - to report on the health risk posed by a specific level of air quality. 

What is reported?

The Air Quality Index (AQI) reports current air quality based on a specific level of an individual air pollutant.  Two-day air quality forecasts are also provided. The new Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) reports on the health risk posed by a mixture of pollutants: ground-level ozone, particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide.

What is measured?

The Air Quality Index (AQI) communicates the air quality of the single worst pollutant.  The index rating for the new Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is the sum of the health risks from each of the pollutants in the index.

Why is the AQHI more useful to most of us?

The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) reflects current knowledge of the health effects associated with air pollution. The traditional Air Quality Index (AQI) is based on air quality standards and takes into consideration both environmental and human health concerns.

Which is better?

While both the traditional Air Quality Index (AQI) and the new Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) have their respective strengths, this new index has been designed to tell you more about your health risk from air pollution on any given day. 

Why does AQHI show improved or degraded air quality in my community compared to the old AQI?

The two indices were developed with different objectives in mind and, for that reason should not be compared; however it is inevitable that there will be comparisons. The new Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) captures the health risk from air pollution. The traditional Air Quality Index (AQI) provides us with information on the quality of the air compared to Canadian air quality standards and/or criteria for pollutants. For this reason, there is bound to be a difference in the perceived air quality in your community.

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