Caution | Outdoor water restrictions in effect

Stage 3 outdoor water restrictions are in effect. Learn more about how City services are impacted and what you can do during this stage.

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Air Quality

Air Quality

Air quality is impacted by human activities (inside and outside our city limits) such as upstream oil and gas, agriculture, construction, transportation, commercial and residential heating, and general solvent use. Wildfires also effect air quality by emitting smoke and participles into the air. Changes in wind or temperature, as well as how the shape of the land can trap pollution, also influences local air quality.   

Managing air quality is important because air pollution causes adverse environmental and health effects.  Strategies and actions to reduce pollution, involve different levels of governments, business, and organizations. Calgarians also play a role in supporting a healthy airshed through our collective actions to reduce fuel consumption, wood burning, and use of air-emitting materials. 

How are we tracking air quality?


Air quality measurement involves the continuous monitoring of air contaminants.   The ones most commonly measured are: fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulphur dioxide (SO2).  The Calgary Region Airshed Zone monitors and reports air quality data from monitoring stations in the Calgary region.  Currently, the overall air quality standards are met.Note: air pollution from wildfires is not included in ambient air quality reporting.  However, it is used to calculate the Air Quality Health Index. + Air Quality Health Index (clicking the “+” to expand the content below)

Data collected on air quality is used to create the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI).  The index describes the level of health risk and steps to reduce exposure.  Calgary’s current AQHI and more information is posted on Environment Canada’s website.

Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards

The federal government sets the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards which determine the acceptable limits of air contaminants of concern based on impacts to human health and the environment. 

Air Quality Health Index

Data collected on air quality is used to create the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI).  The index describes the level of health risk and steps to reduce exposure.  Calgary’s current AQHI and more information is posted on Environment Canada’s website.

How are we managing air quality?


Air quality in the Calgary region is primarily impacted by human activities related to upstream oil and gas, agriculture, construction, transportation, commercial and residential heating, and general solvent use.  Wildfires also impact air quality.

Currently, the overall air quality limits are being met. However, Calgary has reached some of the proactive triggers, meaning planned action is required to maintain good air quality. 

Maintaining a healthy airshed requires prioritizing actions focused on reducing critical air contaminants (e.g. fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (O3), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen-based oxides (NOx) and sulphur-based oxides).   The City of Calgary participates in the  Calgary Region Airshed Zone Air Quality Management PlanCalgary Region Airshed Zone Air Quality Management Plan.

Responding to air complaints


Industrial emissions – The provincial government regulates air emissions from industrial sources. Report concerns by calling the Energy & Environment 24-7 Response Line at 1-800-222-6514.

Nuisance smoke and dust – The City of Calgary prohibits activities that allow smoke, dust or other airborne matter without taking reasonable precautions in the Community Standards Bylaw.  Report concerns by calling 3-1-1.

Wood-burning firepits – The Community Standards Bylaw outlines the use of wood-burning firepits.  During periods of poor air quality and wildfire events, a ban on fire pits may be issued to reduce any further contribution to smoke and particulate.   Report concerns by calling 3-1-1.

Understanding climate change and air quality


Climate change and air quality are linked: changes in climate are affecting air quality in Canada, and several air pollutants contribute to climate change. A warming climate is expected to worsen air pollution levels.

As the frequency and severity of wildfires are expected to increase due to climate change, emissions from wildfires represent one of the most significant climate-related risks to air quality in Canada.

Climate change can also affect indoor air quality when elevated levels of outdoor air pollutants infiltrate buildings or when mould accumulates following extreme weather events, such as floods.  

Climate action outlined in Calgary’s Climate Resiliency Strategy contributes to a healthy airshed. Visit calgary.ca/climateprogram for more details. 

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