Q4 Air Quality Results Released

Posted on January 31, 2023

From October through December 2022, Fort Air Partnership (FAP) recorded 12,597 hours of air monitoring data for use in calculating the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) at seven stations in our Airshed.

  • 11,387 (or 90.3%) of the hours were of low-risk AQHI. 
  • 1,179 (or 9.4%) of the hours were moderate-risk AQHI.
  • 31 hours (or .002%) were high or very high-risk AQHI.

Summary of Exceedances

There were (27) one-hour and (25) 24-hour Alberta Ambient Air Quality Objectives (AAAQO) exceedances from October to December 2022. All were for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) except for (1) one-hour exceedance for hydrogen sulphide (H2S).

Meteorological conditions, a controlled burn at Elk Island National Park, and wintertime temperature inversions caused the vast majority of the exceedances.

Air quality measurements are compared continuously to both one and 24-hour AAAQOs. An exceedance of an AAAQO is reported to the Alberta Government, and the likely cause of the exceedance is investigated.

For more details: October to December report air monitoring report.



Temperature inversions

Posted on January 10, 2023
Courtesy of The Weather Network


Typically, warm air sits near the ground, and air rises easily, carrying away polluting substances. During a temperature inversion, cold air is trapped near the ground by warm air several hundred meters above it. The warm air acts like a lid, and polluting substances can’t rise and disperse as readily. As a result, a higher AQHI rating is realized.  

The AQHI is a tool that helps people understand what the local outside air quality means to their health. Moderate to high AQHI ratings may lead to health problems for at-risk populations, such as children, the elderly and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. 

Some sources of polluting substances, like industrial emissions and wetlands, stay fairly constant throughout the year, no matter the season. But in the winter, fireplaces, wood stoves, home heating and idling vehicles contribute to higher concentrations. A temperature inversion traps a build-up of these substances near the ground until wind, a snowstorm, or some other weather change sweeps them away.

Fortunately, temperature inversions that cause high or very high AQHI ratings don’t happen very often. Fort Air Partnership (FAP), the organization that monitors the air people breathe in and around Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, reported only 133 hours of high or very high AQHI ratings throughout 2022. Although it is challenging to determine precisely how many of these hours were due to wintertime temperature inversion, FAP estimates it is about 5%. The majority of exceedances are due to wildfire smoke.

What you can do

People can reduce their impact on air quality by not idling vehicles when parked, avoiding excessive fireplace or wood stove use, and using energy-efficient products. People can also keep track of current and forecast local AQHI levels on the FAP website, and if levels are high, adjust their outdoor activities accordingly. You can also follow FAP on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.