BOW VALLEY – A year after an air-quality monitoring pilot project was announced for four southern Alberta locations, including the Bow Valley – a station was installed in Elk Run Boulevard in Canmore last week.
Designed to monitor, analyze, give up-to-date information on the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) while developing strategies to manage air quality issues, Calgary Region Airshed Zone (CRAZ) officials were excited to announce the western Bow Valley's inaugural air quality monitoring station.
"We are very excited to be able to bring portable units out to Canmore to monitor in the Bow Valley. This is the first ambient long-term monitoring in the Bow Valley and we are excited to be able to provide it," said Jill Bloor, director of the (CRAZ).
As part of the pilot project to monitor air quality in southern Alberta, the portable unit monitors oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), hydrocarbons, ground levels ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (S02), carbon monoxide (CO) and meteorology. Intended to rotate between the Bow Valley, Cochrane, the Okotoks-High River area and the Chestermere-Strathmore Wheatland corridor, the project was funded in part by the Alberta Environment and CRAZ.
Before the recent installation of the air monitoring laboratory, the monitoring stations were in Calgary SE, Calgary Inglewood, Calgary Varsity and Airdrie.
"The locations of the panels were decided in many ways," Bloor explained.
"A network assessment was done a few years ago that highlighted four areas and three other areas outside of the city of Calgary ... we didn't know what the air quality was like."
Noting that the Bow Valley is full of people who like to enjoy the outdoors, Bloor said residents and visitors can now visit the CRAZ site to see live data of the air quality.
On a scale of one to 10, a rating of three of less constitutes a low health risk for people at high risk and it shouldn't impede their ability to enjoy usual outdoor activities, according to Environment Canada. A rating of six or seven is when people at risk, for example people with respiratory issues, youth or seniors, should reduce or reschedule strenuous outdoor activity.
"We say, 'the lower the number, the lower the risk,' " Bloor said.
Graphs with specific data can be found on the site, but Bloor said the data is not easily understood or translated to use and encouraged people to go to the home page with the AQHI sidebar.
At press time, the index was reading at a level two rating.
To see live data for the air quality measurements, visit craz.ca/monitoring/canmore-elk-run or download the AQHI map.