Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Air Quality Health Index

1) Do you find that the AQHI is useful and informative? Does the AQHI provide a clear message about the local air quality? Please explain.


  1. I find the Environment Canada site very easy to follow and very informative. I feel that reading the information on how the AQHI is calculated and how the numbers affect people living with Asthma gives you a better understanding of how the numbers work and how they can affect your health/breathing.

  2. I think the AQHI will be a useful guide for me as I try to manage my activities based on the air quality. It would be nice to see some integration with 'declared' smog days and heat alerts though. Today in Toronto, AQHI is only a 5, yet there is a heat advisory already in effect, and it looks like there may be smog by the end of the week. Having that information all in one place would be very useful.

  3. During the current heatwave in Toronto, I have been using the AQHI regularly and have found it very helpful. I had to step out briefly on a day that was a 5 (moderate risk) and found my chest experienced just a slight amount of tightness. Although, later that evening my symptoms worsened and I had to take my fast acting medication (ventolin). I now know that even though I did not experience the tightness I have felt in the past on hot, humid days the Air Quality can still affect me at a low risk level. Using the index has helped me know what level is a risk for me. I will be indoors as much as possible during this heatwave.

  4. I was surprised to learn the air quality can be poor throughout the year. I've only been paying attention to it in the summer months. I will use this tool throughout the year to manage my asthma and out door activities.

  5. I liked the old system (Air Quality Index) better.
    I know when it hits yellow (over 25) I exercise indoors and when it hits red (over 50) I am not allowed outdoors at all.
    Today the AQHI is only four, but under the old system it is Red (50+). The sky is hazy with pollution and they say it is only at four. I stepped outside for only 30 seconds to take out the garbage and I started to wheeze.
    I think the AQHI scale is bogus, it makes the pollution look less bad than it actually is.

  6. Dear Anonymous...

    I hope that you can find a way to get the new AQHI to work for you. You are affected by a 4 which is a moderate risk to some but a high risk to you.

    I am working to find my number, I thought I was a 5 but may need to re think other factors that may be affecting me. I am very sensitive to heat and pollen so I need to take those into account. I know what you mean when you just step out to put the garbage out and you wheeze, for me I get a very tight chest and cannot catch my breath, it just happens so fast! Glad to hear you are so well informed :o)

    It has not been a good summer for Asthma.

    I hope things improve for you too!

  7. I am a Toronto resident, and I checked the AQHI forecast as I usually do, and didn't notice anything that should alarm me. However, I have not been to my doctor since the AQHI was developed, so I don't know what my warning range should be.

    On my way home from work yesterday, I was experiencing some difficulties with air quality. I wasn't suffering asthma symptoms per se (I would have if I was outside for more than 30 minutes), but I could feel there was pollution present, and I couldn't talk properly without clearing my throat every few seconds.

    When I went to the site today, I couldn't find historical data on the AQHI. I wanted to know what the AQHI number was around 6pm yesterday, as a reference. I can find all the other air information (temperature, humidity, humidex, wind), but nothing about the AQHI.

    It would be much more helpful to have a way to look back on air quality, so someone who experienced a difficulty can understand what number it was at during that particular time.


  8. Rob,

    I tried to find the AQHI for yesterday at both the weather network and the Environment Canada site, no luck.

    I too experienced similar symptoms yesterday and they are somewhat worse today. I was told that the AQHI was not high yesterday because we had a breeze moving the air, it don't have the exact number, sorry.

    I believe my symptoms are being caused by Ragweed pollen as well as the hot humid weather.
    If you are allergic to this pollen it may be what is causing your symptoms along with the hot humid and polluted air. Just a thought and hope you're feeling better today.

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