Health Canada reminds Canadians to be 'air aware': check the Air Quality health index before going outside this summer

Transcript - Health Canada reminds Canadians to be "air aware" - check the Air Quality health index before going outside this summer

Unidentified Male: A little exercise in the fresh air. It's a part of life for many of us. And this is also a part of life. Vehicle exhaust and industrial smokestacks spewing out pollution. It means the air we breathe may not be so fresh. In fact, at times it could threaten our health. There are times when it's okay to exercise and times where we need to be more aware of the air we breathe and take the necessary precautions. People react differently to air pollution. Some of us are more sensitive to its adverse affects or are more at risk. The question is how does a person assess the risk? The answer is here.

Unidentified Male: The AQHI is the Air Quality Health Index. It's a new scale that's been developed to communicate the health risks associated with air pollution. And so it's something that was developed in Canada, based on Canadian health and air pollution information. Anyone can access the AQHI scale on the Internet and then use that to plan their activities for today or tomorrow. So basically what it tells you is what the air quality is in your community and how it might affect your health and what you might be able to do to improve it.

Unidentified Male: Up until now there hasn't been a common index for air quality across the country. Provinces and cities have been calculating and reporting their air quality differently so people were getting inconsistent messages at times. Health Canada and Environment Canada teamed up with provincial and municipal governments and other partners to develop a national index.

Unidentified Male: The AQHI is presented on a simple 10-point scale, like the UV Index. So it goes from low to very high. And so people can look at it before they go to work or out to play for the day. So for those who are active outdoors in the summer, they can look at the Index and decide whether they should reschedule their activities for a time when the Index is lower.

Unidentified Male: The Air Quality Health Index is also an extremely useful tool for seniors, parents of children with asthma and people suffering from heart or lung disease. They can assess the risk and adjust their activities accordingly. Even if you're relatively healthy, fit and active, you can check the index to decide when and how much to exercise or work outdoors.

Unidentified Male: The AQHI is available in many communities across Canada and expanding to more locations. It's calculated from the mixture of air pollutants that are known to have adverse effects on health. And so these pollutants are monitored at many locations through Canada including ozone, particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. Forecasts of maximum readings for today and tomorrow are also provided, along with associated health messages.

Unidentified Male: To find out about the AQHI and whether it's available in your community, please visit airhealth.ca. Martin Vanderwood reporting.

For more information, visit canada.ca/health.

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