Understanding the Air Quality Health Index



The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, on camera:

Wildfire season has started, and we are seeing its widespread impact with poor air quality across the country.

On screen: Visuals of various Canadian cities, with haze from wildfires visible.

For some of us, this is the first time we are experiencing the negative impacts of severe air pollution.

This could be the worst wildfire season in our history so its important to learn more about air quality and what we can do to protect ourselves and our family.

Minister Duclos, on camera:

Fortunately, there is a tool we can use to know the air quality in our area and what it means for our health.

We can even receive notifications specific to our own sensitivity to air quality.

The Air Quality Health Index, or AQHI, provides real-time and forecasted air quality information, using a scale of one though 10+.

The higher the number, the greater the risk to our health.

On screen: The AQHI scale from 1 to 10 Plus animates as the different levels are described.

1-3 (shades of blue) indicate low risk, 4-6 (shades of yellow) moderate risk, 7-10 (shades of reds) high risk, and + (deep red) Very high risk.

1-3 means there is a low risk to our health, 4-6 indicates moderate risk, 7-10 is high risk. This is when we should consider modifying our outdoor activities, especially if we are at greater risk. Ten and above is very high risk and if possible, we should avoid spending time outside.

We can check the AQHI in our area in a variety of ways. On our smartphone, we can use the WeatherCAN app, from Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Minister Duclos holds up his smartphone, showing the WeatherCan app. Various scenes from the app are shown.

The app will let you see the weather, the AQHI and special air quality statements in your area. We can see how the air quality changes, even throughout the day.

On screen: Visuals wildfires burning. Additional scenes of various Canadian cities, with haze from wildfires visible.

Anyone can feel the effects from poor air quality if they spend time outdoors when the Air Quality Health Index values are high.

If we see or smell smoke, the air quality is likely being affected.

On screen: Visuals of people who are at higher risk, including people with asthma, those who are pregnant, and seniors and infants.

Poor air quality is especially harmful for people with asthma, heart conditions, lung disease or other respiratory problems.

Other groups at a higher risk are those who are pregnant, infants and seniors.

Minister Duclos, on camera:

Look for the Air Quality Health Index in your weather updates and check the air quality in your region.

Take time today to learn how air pollution can affect our health and what we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

You can find more information about air quality at Canada.ca/wildfire-smoke

Page details

Date modified: