Air Quality Health Index

What are you breathing today?

Did you know?

People with breathing problems or heart disease are more likely to experience short-term health effects from air pollution than people without these conditions.
Exposure to air pollution can trigger or aggravate existing health conditions, especially in people with breathing and heart problems.

What is the Air Quality Health Index?

  • the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is a scale designed to help you understand what the air quality around you means to your health
  • it looks at the mixture of air pollutants and grades them on a weighted basis to come out with a scale from 1 to 10+ to show the relative health risk associated with the air pollution level in a community
  • the higher the value of the Air Quality Health Index, the more likely people will experience symptoms associated with poor air quality
health risk scale; low risk 1 to 3, moderate risk 4 to 6, high risk 7 to 10, very high risk above 10

How can you find out the AQHI values?

There are three ways you can find out what the AQHI is in your community:

  1. provides the current and forecasted AQHI values
  2. a toll-free phone line 1-866-688-3810 is available 24 hours, 7 days a week
  3. A free phone alert service allows you to receive telephone advice in French or English when poor air quality has the potential to affect your health. The phone alerts are sent between 8 am and 8 pm when the AQHI is forecast to be elevated. You can sign up for this service over the phone by calling 1-866-688-3810.

If you are sensitive to changes in air quality, the AQHI can help you by:

Providing forecasts so you can plan when to schedule outdoor activities,
Providing health tips to protect you from air pollution;

To learn more about the Air Quality Health Index, visit If you have any questions, you may contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744, TTY: 613-580-9656.