Frequently Asked Questions
This program is not intended to provide personal health advice related to local air quality conditions. If required, Air Quality and Health Advisories are issued by the BC Ministry of Environment and related health protection advice is provided by local or regional Medical Health Officers.
1. How do I keep my school informed on the air quality flag for the day?
- Encourage students and staff to check your school’s page on airqualityflags.ca
- If your school is using one of the fabric flags, place it in a high traffic area (beside front entrance, for example)
- Morning announcements
- School newsletter
- Download an Air Quality Flag poster to remind your school community about the importance of air quality
2. How can I find out the daily Air Quality Health Index reading?
Each day your school page on airqualityflags.ca will tell you the AQHI reading for your location. You get to determine which flag to raise and tell your school community what kind of air day it is.
If you want to access the AQHI on your own, visit www.airhealth.ca and click on your location.
3. Is air quality affected by weather?
Yes. Things like wind speed, topography (the shape of the land), temperature inversions, and intense sunlight can all contribute to the quality of the air in a given area. Learn more about how weather conditions can affect air quality here.
4. What does the Air Quality Health Index measure?
It measures and reports on a combination of common air pollutants known to harm human health. These are:
- Ozone (O3) at ground level,
- Particulate Matter (PM2.5/PM10)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).
5. How is Air Quality Health Index data captured?
The AQHI is calculated through readings from an air quality monitor. These monitors are located in communities and capture air samples throughout the day. Reports are generated on pollution levels and, with the help of a meteorologist; the AQHI is shared with the community.
6. What does it mean to be “at-risk”?
Groups of people who are “at-risk” tend to be more affected from air pollution – individuals with pre-existing respiratory (lung) or cardiovascular (heart and blood) conditions, seniors, people who are frequently active outside, and children. Children are more at risk because they are more active outside, have less developed respiratory systems, and inhale more air per kg of body weight compared to adults.
7. If it’s a blue day?
Everyone is encouraged to enjoy their outdoor activities.
8. If it’s a grey day?
For the general population, there is no need to modify usual outdoor activities unless people are experiencing symptoms. At risk populations might consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous outdoor activities if they are experiencing symptoms.
9. If it’s a brown day?
The general and at-risk populations may consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outside if people are experiencing symptoms.
10. If it’s a red day?
- If the number is high, there are a few different ways to protect health :
- Continue to be active outside but with less physical exertion (walking instead of running).
- Reschedule outdoor activities to a time when the air quality is better.
- People experiencing symptoms may decide to visit the doctor or a health care provider, or take medication to improve breathing.
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