The AQHI is a scale from 1 to 10+ to indicate the level of health risk associated with local air quality. A reading of 1-3 is a low risk, 4-6 a moderate health risk, 7-10 a high health risk, and 10+ a very high health risk. Each category includes health messages and ways to change outdoor activities, for both the general public and at risk populations who are more sensitive to air pollution. The higher the reading, the greater the health risk and the greater need for people to take precautions, especially those at higher risk.
One important feature of the AQHI is its ability to help individuals assess their own health risks based on symptoms they experience, even if they have no known health problems. Once individuals learn what index reading triggers their own symptoms, they can use the index forecasts to plan their outdoor activities.
It also forecasts local air quality for today and tomorrow and provides associated health advice.
You can use the index at www.airqualityontario.com to check the quality of outdoor air in your community before heading off to work or play. And you can use the forecasts to plan your activities, whether over the next hour or the next day.
Seniors, parents of children with asthma, and people suffering from diabetes, heart or lung disease, can use the index to assess the immediate risk air pollution poses to health and take steps to reduce that risk. Even if you’re relatively healthy, fit and active, you can consult the index to decide when and how much to exercise or work outdoors.
Note: The AQHI does not measure the effects of odour, pollen, dust, heat or humidity on your health.