Air Quality Index (AQI)
Air Quality Index (AQI) Calculation Method
For each of the pollutants measured at an air monitoring station, a sub-index is calculated first. The sub-index is calculated by dividing the concentration of a pollutant monitored by its corresponding reference value and multiplying the result by 50. A pollutant’s reference value is the concentration at which air quality is considered "poor". This value is determined on the basis of criteria to protect human health. The reference values are as follows:
1Maximum 4 minutes average concentration over a given hour.
The results of the highest sub-index are then used as the air quality index for that station. Not all pollutants have to be monitored at one station to calculate the AQI. The following is an example of a calculation where ozone, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide are measured.
Example of the calculation
The air quality index is the highest of the sub-indices: AQI = 73
The AQI for a region or city is based on the highest of the air quality indices measured at representative stations in the area.
Representative spatial scales
Stations used for calculating regional AQI are spatially representative to within 100-150 km. Regions displayed on the map are meteorological regions. They correspond to regions used for broadcasting weather prediction and air quality information. On this scale, pollutants taken into account for high AQI values are fine particulates or ozone during summer; during winter, only fine particulates are used.
Stations used to calculate local AQI are spatially representative to a maximum of 1 km. These zones, designated “urban sectors,” are shown on the map as circles. At this level, atmospheric pollutants like sulphur dioxide and fine particulates may significantly influence AQI values due to industrial, transport or residential wood heating local emission sources. Consequently, these areas often have unique profiles. Some emission sources such as residential wood heating bear witness to human polluting activities that are likely to influence a great number of places in Québec. The types of influence that characterize any given area vary with local sources.
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