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The WBEA currently operates 29 permanent ambient air monitoring stations throughout the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB). These stations include industrial/compliance, attribution, community, background, and meteorological stations.

Discover our monitoring network

Types of Air Monitoring Stations


Monitor ambient air near facilities and fulfill monitoring requirements of Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) approvals, as well as assist with the compliance and achievement of environmental policy and regulatory requirements


Fulfill monitoring requirements for specific EPEA approvals and assist with achieving a combination of community and compliance (industrial) monitoring objectives


Measure parameters of concern in communities, and inform the public on the condition of the environment to allow citizens to make informed decisions about their health, as well as assist with the compliance and achievement of environmental policy and regulatory requirements


Also known as Enhanced Deposition Sites, Background stations are far from industrial facilities and communities and measure concentrations of ambient air parameters


Provides information for ambient meteorological conditions (e.g., temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed and direction) and supports ambient air quality modelling

Pollutants Monitored

Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)

The Air Quality Health Index, or AQHI, is a provincial scale designed to help people understand what air quality means to their health. It is a tool designed to help individuals make decisions to protect their health by limiting short-term exposure to air pollution and adjusting activity levels during increased levels of air pollution. The higher the AQHI number, the greater the health risk and need to take precautions. Occasionally, when the amount of air pollution is extremely high, such as during a forest fire smoke event, the AQHI may exceed 10.


The WBEA reports AQHI ratings from nine of its continuous monitoring stations in the Wood Buffalo region. The AQHI includes concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and ground-level ozone (O3), which are three compounds that can cause respiratory effects. Additionally, in Alberta, hourly pollutant concentrations are compared against Alberta’s Ambient Air Quality Objectives (AAAQOs). If an AAAQO is exceeded, the AQHI value is overridden with a HIGH or VERY HIGH risk value. However, odour causing compounds measured in the WBEA network, including reduced sulphur compounds (RSC) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), are not considered in the AQHI. Therefore, this index gives an idea of air quality based on some pollutants, but it does not describe the potential for odour events. Learn more on the WBEA’s Odour Monitoring Program.

Each individual reacts differently to air pollution. If you are part of the at-risk population, use the AQHI to assess the immediate risk air pollution poses to your health and take steps to lessen that risk. Even if you are relatively healthy, fit, and active, you can consult the AQHI to decide when and how much activity to undertake outdoors.

For more information about the AQHI, including AQHI forecasts, visit the Government of Canada’s page: About the Air Quality Health Index, or view Alberta’s AQHI map.

For AQHI resources, including education, media, and promotional materials, visit the Alberta AQHI Resources page.


AQHI Health Messages

Each level of health risk is associated with a pair of health messages for at-risk and general populations. It suggests steps we can take to reduce our pollution exposure. People with heart or breathing problems are at greater risk. Follow your doctor’s usual advice about exercising and managing your condition.

At Risk Population General Population
Low Risk
Enjoy your usual outdoor activities.
Ideal air quality for outdoor activities.
Moderate Risk
Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you are experiencing symptoms. 
No need to modify your usual outdoor activities unless you are experiencing  symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.
High Risk
Reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also take it easy.
Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you are experiencing symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.
Very High Risk
Above 10
Avoid strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should avoid outdoor physical exertion.
Reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you are experiencing symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.
WeatherCAN App Icon

WeatherCAN App

Stay informed on outdoor air quality conditions, plan your outdoor activities, and manage exposure to outdoor air pollution. The WeatherCAN app informs users of the level of health risk associated with local outdoor air quality. The app provides hourly AQHI readings and daily forecasts for all AQHI communities across Canada.

The app includes the following features:

  • User-defined push notifications based on the AQHI level and stations you choose
  • Map screen to view spatial distribution of AQHI over a region or the entire country
  • GPS capability to bring you to your nearest station from the map screen
  • Profile view for setting favourite communities
  • Tips for taking personal action to improve air quality

Fort McKay Air Quality Index (FMAQI)

The Community of Fort McKay has developed a Fort McKay Air Quality Index (FMAQI) specifically to meet their community needs, based upon the existing federal Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) and using air quality measured by the WBEA at its Fort McKay-Bertha Ganter AMS. The goal in developing the “community-specific” FMAQI was to create an index to better reflect air quality in the context of Fort McKay’s location and expectations. The FMAQI was subjected to an external scientific validation prior to it being displayed on the WBEA website.

The AQHI was considered a good index and is incorporated in the FMAQI, however, it only covers some of the air quality parameters of interest and relevance to Fort McKay. Therefore, the FMAQI includes the parameters used in the AQHI (NO2, O3, and PM2.5), in addition to SO2, TRS and THC. When the hourly FMAQI number is much higher than the AQHI number, it generally indicates that odours are likely to be present in Fort McKay. Any index values above 10 are reported as 10.

The FMAQI rating system is calculated based on the concentrations of these parameters, and is as follows:

  1. Good Air Quality = FMAQI of 3 or less
  2. Fair Air Quality = FMAQI of greater than 3 and less than or equal to 6
  3. Poor Air Quality = FMAQI of greater than 6 and less than or equal to 9
  4. Very Poor Air Quality = FMAQI of greater than 9

Threshold levels for potential odour-causing TRS and THC used to calculate the FMAQI were based on a sensitivity analysis of reported concentrations measured when odours were present in the community. The Fort McKay Sustainability Department advises Fort McKay Community members to use the FMAQI as a general indicator of air quality.

Wildfires & Air Quality

Smoke from wildfires in Alberta and surrounding areas may adversely affect air quality, potentially putting more people at health risk from smoke exposure. While the AQHI provides Albertans with information related to air quality, the Government of Alberta also provides information on wildfires within the province. Smoke plume forecasts, which are useful for updates and expected air quality trends, can be accessed through the following: BlueSky Smoke Forecasting System, Canada’s Wildfire Smoke Prediction System (Firework), and Environment and Climate Change Canada’s forest fire smoke dispersion model. The United States Environmental Protection Agency provides resources in the “Smoke-Ready Toolbox” to help educate people about the risks of smoke exposure and actions they can take to protect their health.