AEMERA public service campaign brings real-time Air Quality Health Index readings to digital billboards across the province

EDMONTON, Nov. 18, 2015 /CNW/ - The Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA) launched an outdoor public service campaign this week that will see real-time Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) readings streamed to digital billboards in seven communities across the province.  

Alberta's AQHI is a simple measure that provides information about the relative health risks associated with local air quality. The system rates air quality on a scale from 1 to 10 – the higher the AQHI number, the greater the health risk. Typically ratings will not exceed 10, unless the amount of air contamination is extremely high. An example of when Alberta might experience this type of rating would be during a wild fire smoke event, when smoke is transported into communities.

"One of AEMERA's goals is to provide environmental data and information to stakeholders and the public in an open, timely and understandable way. Streaming the AQHI in this very public, very prominent way will not only help us to achieve this goal, but it will also provide a very important public service to Albertans," said Jay Nagendran, President and CEO of AEMERA.

AEMERA has worked with its airshed partners across the province to co-brand the AQHI messages and to reflect the many important working relationships the agency has across the province. AQHI will be live streamed in the following locations where AQHI is collected and reported, and where digital billboards are available:

  • Edmonton (several locations across four quadrants)
  • Calgary (several locations across four quadrants)
  • Grande Prairie (three locations)
  • Medicine Hat (two locations)
  • Cold Lake (one location)
  • Lethbridge (one location)
  • Fort McMurray (one location)

"These highly visible and prominent billboards are just one example of how we are fulfilling our mandate to provide open and transparent access to scientific data and information on the condition of Alberta's environment," said Nagendran.

There are several communities in the province where billboard infrastructure is not currently available, including the City of Red Deer. In lieu of digital billboards, AEMERA is working with the City of Red Deer and the Parkland Airshed Management Zone to come up with alternative solutions to bring live AQHI readings to Red Deer citizens. AEMERA is also exploring ideas and opportunities to share the AQHI publicly in rural areas of the province.

The AQHI billboard campaign will run until the end of the current fiscal year (March 31, 2016). As AEMERA develops its 2016/17 budgets and work plans, the success of the campaign will be evaluated to determine the feasibility of continuing beyond the current contract end date.

For further information about Alberta's AQHI, including real-time AQHI readings, visit aemera.org.  

The Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA) is an arm's length provincial agency responsible for measuring, assessing and informing the public on the condition of Alberta's environment on key ambient air, water, land and biodiversity indicators including information necessary to understand cumulative effects.

Backgrounder 

AEMERA public service campaign brings real-time Air Quality Health Index readings to digital billboards across the province

November 18, 2015 – AEMERA is working with Pattison Outdoor Advertising to live stream the AQHI on digital billboards in seven communities across the province: 

  • Edmonton (several locations across 4 quadrants)
  • Calgary (several locations across 4 quadrants)
  • Grande Prairie (3 locations)
  • Medicine Hat (2 locations)
  • Cold Lake (1 location)
  • Lethbridge (1 location)
  • Fort McMurray (1 location)

These locations represent all the communities in the province where AQHI is collected and reported and where Pattison has a digital billboard presence. In each community where there is more than one billboard in place, the ad will rotate across all of the billboard locations in order to allow maximum exposure.

In Fort McMurray the digital billboard can is located inside the Fort McMurray International Airport at the luggage carousel on the main floor.

While not every community that reports AQHI in the province has digital billboard infrastructure, in areas where air quality is an ongoing concern, AEMERA is endeavoring to work directly with municipalities and towns to find alternative ways to publicly display AQHI information.

In the event that the AQHI is not available (usually due to a temporary technical issue), a generic AEMERA ad will be displayed until such time that the AQHI is back up and running.

Alberta's Air Quality Health Index
The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is a scale designed to help you understand what the quality of the air around you means to your health. It is a tool developed by health and environmental professionals to communicate the health risk posed by air pollution.

It is designed to help you make decisions to protect your health and the environment by:

  • Limiting short-term exposure to air pollution
  • Adjusting your outdoor activity during episodes of increased air pollution and encouraging physical activity outdoors on days when the AQHI is lower
  • Reducing your personal contribution to air pollution

The AQHI provides specific advice for people who are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution as well as the general public.

Air Quality Health Index scale; 1 to 3, low risk; 4 to 6, moderate risk; 7 to 10 high risk; +10 very high risk. The higher the AQHI number, the greater the health risk and need to take precautions.

AQHI Health Messages 

Health Risk

Air Quality Health Index

Health Messages

At Risk Population

General Population

Low Risk

1 – 3

Enjoy your usual outdoor activities.

Ideal air quality for outdoor activities.

Moderate Risk

4 – 6

Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you are experiencing symptoms.

No need to modify your usual outdoor activities unless you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

High Risk

7 – 10

Reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also take it easy.

Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

Very High Risk

Above 10

Avoid strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also avoid outdoor physical exertion.

Reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

AEMERA's Airshed Partners
AEMERA has worked with the following airsheds in the province to live-stream the AQHI on digital billboards in seven communities across the province:

Wood Buffalo Environmental Association 
Lakeland Industry & Community Association 
Alberta Capital Airshed 
Calgary Region Airshed Zone
Palliser Airshed Society
Peace Airshed Zone Association

Further Information
For further information about how the AQHI relates to health, please contact:
Carolyn Ziegler
Alberta Health, Media Relations
780-415-2496
Carolyn.Ziegler@gov.ab.ca.  

For more information about AQHI, including real-time readings, forecasts, how AQHI is calculated, educational resources and more, visit: http://aemera.org/our-activities/air/air-quality-health-index/  

SOURCE AEMERA

Image with caption: "AEMERA (CNW Group/AEMERA)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20151118_C6900_PHOTO_EN_548602.jpg

For further information: Melissa Pennell, Director of Communications, AEMERA, 780-229-7254 (office), 780-221-1458, melissa.pennell@aemera.org

RELATED LINKS
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