Halton Region is committed to safeguarding residents’ health. The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) will help us achieve this goal together.
The AQHI is a national tool that helps individuals protect themselves and the people they care for. The Index reports air quality in relation to health on a scale from 1 to 10. The higher the reading, the greater the health risk and need to take precaution. Air pollution worsens heart problems and aggravates lung conditions, such as asthma and bronchitis. In healthy people, air pollution reduces lung function and irritates the eyes nose and throat. Poor air quality is associated with thousands of hospitalizations and premature deaths in Canada each year.
The AQHI can help people plan ahead by telling them the best time of the day to be physically active and when to reduce or reschedule strenuous outdoor activity. The AQHI provides health messages for both the at-risk and the general population. The at-risk group includes children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing heart and breathing problems. When the Air Quality Health Index reaches seven or above, children, people with heart or breathing problems, and the elderly should reduce or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities. AQHI forecasts are posted at www.airhealth.ca and www.halton.ca/aqhi with readings updated hourly.
Halton’s AQHI is based on two Ministry of the Environment air monitoring stations in Oakville and Burlington. The Region has installed its own air monitoring station in Milton to add another air monitor to the network.
Halton Region in partnership with the City of Toronto, and Durham, Peel, and York Regions, have introduced an electronic toolkit to assist organizations in promoting the Air Quality Health Index. The toolkit contains radio and web advertisements, newsletter articles, a presentation, print resources and a short educational film. The film walks viewers through what the index means, how air quality can affect our activities and why we should check in if we’re planning on spending time outdoors.
The AQHI helps to protect our health, and also serves as a reminder of the need to protect our environment. As cars, trucks and coal-fired power plants are major sources of air pollution, reducing energy use at home and on the road will impact the number of high AQHI days.
To help you reduce both home energy use and vehicle use, download or order a free copy of the 20/20 Planner which has a step-by-step action plan to energy reduction.
Halton Region’s air quality program aims to protect and enhance Halton’s air quality and protect Halton residents’ health. The AQHI is part of a broader air quality education and awareness-raising program. Learn more by visiting www.halton.ca/airquality.
Gary Carr is the Regional Chair of Halton – which consists of Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Halton Hills. Contact Chair Carr by telephone at 905-825-6115 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org