Air Monitoring and COVID-19

The quality of the air we breathe has never seemed so important as Albertans, and the world, focus their attention on their health and safety and that of others. As respiratory health is a factor in determining a person’s risk and response to the COVID-19 virus, it is essential that residents living in and around the PAZA region continue to have access to reliable air quality information.

PAZA’s mandate of monitoring and reporting credible air quality data remains unchanged in these unprecedented times.

PAZA is incorporating and following all Government of Alberta and Government of Canada COVID-19 recommendations and direction as it evolves. Like other Airsheds in the province, PAZA has employed a Business Continuity Plan to ensure air quality data remains available to the public and all our stakeholders. The safety and well-being of our community, members, contractors and staff remain our utmost priority and PAZA has taken steps to do our part to limit exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

As you may be aware, the Alberta Government has issued a temporary relaxation of environmental monitoring and reporting requirements to accommodate COVID-19 response plans. Specifically, the Air Monitoring Directive requirements of monthly calibrations has been adapted to allow for quarterly calibrations. The timeline for some reporting has also been extended or suspended.

The purpose of these temporary changes is to provide flexibility, only in the event that pandemic issues prevent normal monitoring and reporting requirements from being met. PAZA, along with all other Alberta Airsheds, intends to work with the goal of routine monitoring and reporting with monthly calibrations and maintenance at each station.

The province has issued the following statement: “Alberta Environment and Parks understands the value that airshed organizations provide for the collection of high quality air monitoring data. While understanding that Airsheds may need to reduce some of their activities as allowed by the temporary amendment to the Air Monitoring Directive, it is hoped that Airsheds can continue to provide the same high quality service as provided prior to this amendment. It essential that AEP and airsheds continue to work in partnership to assure that air quality data is available to the public.”

The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) data that is provided by Alberta’s Airsheds will continue to be provided on an hourly basis. Those who are most impacted by poor air quality are also more susceptible to the risks of COVID-19, so the AQHI data helps everyone make informed decisions.