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WBEA launches Air Quality Health Index app

Fort McMurray, Alberta – The Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) has launched an iOS application this week that brings real-time Alberta Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) readings to Apple mobile device users with the touch of a finger.

The app, designed for use on Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, provides  real-time AQHI readings and health information for key areas within the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo), and over 15 other major cities and populations within the province of Alberta.

The AQHI is a guide to the relative risk presented by a mixture of common air pollutants which are known to harm human health. The Alberta AQHI, introduced to Albertan’s in June of 2011, is a modified version of the federal AQHI. The modified Alberta index is equipped to measure additional pollutants that are more prominent in our energy based economy when they are at elevated levels.

The AQHI works on a scale from 1 to 10 to determine the health risk for the general population and for those with respiratory conditions. The lower the number, the lower the health risks. WBEA’s iOS app provides users with direct access to this information.

Dr. Kevin Percy, WBEA Executive Director, explains, “We developed the AQHI app to give our community members more direct and easier access to air quality information. The app not only tells a user what the current air quality conditions are in a  given area, but this tailor-made index also provides a forecast of air quality for the day ahead. One of the most valuable features of the AQHI app is the link back to health information and advice that suggests actions we can take to reduce our health risks – all at the touch of a finger.”

The WBEA AQHI app is courtesy of WBEA and can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store - search “WBEA AQHI”, or click the following link: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/alberta-aqhi-by-wbea/id532683869?mt=8&ls=1

The WBEA has also recently launched a mobile version of the WBEA website. The mobile site pulls out key areas of the WBEA website for users – including AQHI readings – and makes it easier to access information on mobile devices such as Blackberry’s and other smartphones.

Backgrounder:

  • WBEA hourly air quality data are streamed to Alberta Environment & Sustainable Resource Development.
  • The AQHI calculation is provided by Alberta Environment & Sustainable Resource Development.
  • Data in the AQHI is reported hourly under Alberta’s system, rather than the federal system’s practice of reporting every three hours.
  • The AQHI value is calculated by using a formula which combines the readings of three specific pollutants: fine particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide
  • Because of Alberta's energy based economy, other pollutants monitored in the province are also considered when reporting the AQHI. These pollutants include: sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, total reduced sulphur, carbon monoxide