Government of Canada

Government of Canada


June 25, 2008 12:30 ET

Governments Take Action for Cleaner Air: Air Quality Alert System Launched in Saint John and Southern New Brunswick

SAINT JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK--(Marketwire - June 25, 2008) - Veteran's Affairs Minister Greg Thompson and New Brunswick Health Minister Michael Murphy today announced that the world's first Air Quality Health Index is now available to residents of Saint John, New Brunswick.

"Canadians are entitled to clean air, to know the quality of the air they breathe and what they can do to reduce the harmful impacts of air pollution," said Minister Thompson. "A year ago our Government announced $30 million to establish an alert system across the country to provide Canadians with the help they need to protect their families. This investment, combined with our Turning the Corner plan to cut air pollution from industry by 50 per cent, shows how serious we are about cleaning up the air we breathe and improving the health of Canadians."

Canada's Air Quality Health Index, found at, provides real time information to Canadians about the quality of the air they're breathing. It is an effective tool to help individuals understand the health risks posed by air pollution, and help Canadians take action to protect their families. The project is supported jointly by the Governments of Canada and New Brunswick.

New Brunswick Health Minister Michael Murphy said the new Air Quality Health Index will better serve the population of Saint John than the existing air quality index because the new index associates air quality with health risk.

"Based on how their body reacts to different levels, individuals and caregivers can decide what steps they should take to protect their health on a particular day or hour. This may mean reducing or rescheduling outdoor physical activities or monitoring symptoms more closely," Murphy said. "I encourage Saint John residents take advantage of this tool in order to better protect their health."

Air quality data from several air monitoring stations in Saint John operated by the New Brunswick Department of Environment will be used to determine the Air Quality Health Index value for Saint John each hour of the day.

"It was recognized several years ago that we needed a better tool to inform people about the health effects associated with air quality." Environment Minister Roland Hache said. "I am pleased that the Department of Environment has been actively involved in this collaborative effort for the new air quality initiative."

The Saint John Index is innovative as it will have information when persistent pollutants such as Sulphur Dioxide or Total Reduced Sulphur are present. The experience gained in developing this procedure will be invaluable to other Canadian communities that have similar local pollution concerns.

With federal funding of $30 million over four years, the Air Quality Health Index will be rolled out to other mid- and large-sized communities across the country. Federal partnerships with municipal and provincial governments and non-governmental organizations are key to the program's success. In New Brunswick, air quality monitoring data and assistance with forecasting is provided by the New Brunswick Department of Environment. Provincial and municipal health authorities and non-government community-based organizations will help respond to public concerns about air quality and convey information about how the Index can help residents protect their health.

This announcement complements the Government's other clean air initiatives including the launch of a national vehicle scrappage program to get smog-producing cars off the road, tough new emissions standards to reduce air pollution from cars and limits on smog-producing chemicals in everyday products.

For more information about the Government of Canada's environmental initiatives, please visit:

Egalement offert en francais

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Health
    Laryssa Waler
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Eric Richer
    Press Secretary
    Health Canada
    Media Relations
    Environment Canada
    Media Relations
    For Air Quality Health Index
    Claude Cote (French)
    Mike Howe (English)