June 23, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The air quality health index (AQHI) - based on its success in Saint John - is being expanded to include Fredericton and Moncton. Health Minister Mary Schryer, Environment Minister Rick Miles and Local Government Minister Chris Collins made the announcement today.
The AQHI provides real-time information about air quality. It is an effective tool to help individuals understand the health risks posed by air pollution and to help residents take action to protect their families.
The AQHI is measured on a number and colour scale of 1 to 10-plus and labels the health risk as low, moderate, high or very high. The lower the number, the better the air quality; the higher the number, the greater the associated health risk.
"Based on how their body reacts to different levels, individuals and caregivers can decide what steps they should take to protect their health on a particular day or hour," Schryer said. "This may mean reducing or rescheduling outdoor physical activities or monitoring symptoms more closely. I encourage Fredericton and Moncton residents take advantage of this tool to protect their health better."
Air quality data from the Fredericton and Moncton air monitoring stations operated by the Department of Environment will be used to determine the AQHI value in these communities each hour.
"The Department of Environment is happy to support the Department of Health in this national initiative by maintaining the monitoring stations and providing the air quality data and analysis," said Environment Minister Rick Miles. "I am pleased to work with the Department of Health to ensure that New Brunswickers have the best air quality possible."
"Clean air is a government priority," said Collins. "The AQHI will help people to understand the air quality in their area and will remind them about the importance of making good decisions in matters of health."
The AQHI project is supported jointly by the federal and New Brunswick governments.
"With the addition of Moncton and Fredericton, the AQHI is now available in 48 communities across the country," said National Revenue Minister Keith Ashfield, who is also minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and minister for the Atlantic Gateway. "The AQHI is an excellent example of local, provincial and federal governments working together to protect the health of Canadians."
Ashfield was speaking on behalf of federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.
"Canadians are entitled to clean air, to know the quality of the air they breathe and what they can do to reduce the harmful impacts of air pollution," said federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice. "The expansion of the Air Quality Health Index in New Brunswick to include Fredericton and Moncton underlines the Government of Canada's continuing commitment, under the Clean Air Agenda, to protecting Canadians and providing them with the information necessary to make good decisions regarding the environment and their health."
Residents may obtain further information about the AQHI as well as values for the day by going online or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-484-2744. The telephone line will have updated AQHI levels three times each working day. More information is also available at the Department of Health website.
MEDIA CONTACT: Danielle Phillips, communications, Department of Health, 506-444-3821.