Air quality is important to our health and the environment. And while Saskatoon has many favourable features - including a healthy urban forest - that contribute to excellent local air quality, there are many sources of local air pollution (e.g., transportation, waste, industry, etc.) that make ongoing monitoring important.
Where are we now?
Saskatoon’s Air Quality Index (AQI) was 20.6 in 2021, which is in the 'Good' range reflecting "No known harmful effects to soil, water, vegetation, animals, materials, visibility or human health. Persons with severe respiratory ailments sensitive to air pollution may notice some minor effects." Saskatoon's AQI consistently falls within the Good or Excellent ranges.
|Year||Average Air Quality Index|
|Air Quality Index||Range||Impact on Environment and Human Health|
|Excellent||0-15||No known harmful effects to soil, water, vegetation, animals, materials, visibility or human health.|
|Good||16-25||No known harmful effects to soil, water, vegetation, animals, materials, visibility or human health. Persons with severe respiratory ailments sensitive to air pollution may notice some minor effects.|
|Fair||26-50||Adequate protection against harmful effects to soil, water, vegetation, animals, materials, visibility and human health . Persons with severe respiratory ailments sensitive to air pollution may need to modify their usual outdoor activities if experiencing effects.|
|Poor||51-100||Not all aspects of the environment and human health are adequately protected from possible adverse effects. The general population should consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous outdoor activities and higher-risk populations should reduce or reschedule outdoor activities.|
|Very Poor||>100||Continued air quality in this range could pose high risk to environment and public health.|
Source: Government of Saskatchewan: 2015 State of the Environment Report.
What Are We Doing?
Advisory and Education Role
The regulatory authority for air pollution is with the provincial and federal governments. The City of Saskatoon therefore serves in an advisory and educational capacity.
Western Yellowhead Air Management Zone (WYAMZ)
The City of Saskatoon is a member of the Western Yellowhead Air Management Zone, the regional management organization for the airshed in which Saskatoon is located. WYAMZ maintains continuous monitors in several urban centers across the province, including Saskatoon, as well as a passive network in the surrounding region. Annual reports are accessible from WYAMZ's website at http://wyamz.ca/reports-downloads/.
What Can You Do?
Environment Canada recommends monitoring the Air Quality Health Index if you have respiratory or cardiovascular condition, have young children, are elderly, or are active outdoors. This index tracks the pollutants that cause symptoms like eye irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
Consider ways to reduce your air pollution such as taking transit, switching to an electric vehicle, turning your car off instead of idling, and planting a lawn that does not require mowing.
Did You Know?
One of the main pollutants that impacts Saskatoon’s air quality is ground level ozone (O3). It is caused by the reaction of pollutants from industry, electricity generation, and vehicle exhaust with sunlight. The same pollution sources are responsible for GHG emissions.