A new tool to provide Nova Scotians with up-to-date information about air quality in their communities was launched by the departments of Environment and Health Promotion and Protection during Clean Air Day, today, June 3, in Kentville. Deputy minister of Environment Nancy Vanstone announced the implementation of the Air Quality Health Index in four communities, including Kentville, Greenwood, Halifax, and Sydney. Other communities including Port Hawkesbury and Pictou will be added in the coming months. “The index provides local air quality and health risk information on an hourly basis which will tell us when we might be affected by air quality and need to adjust our activities,” said Ms. Vanstone. “It will tell us when the health risk is low, and we can enjoy getting outdoors and being active which is most of the time in Nova Scotia.” “Seniors, children, people with heart and lung conditions, those who spend a lot of time outdoors and health-care providers are just a few of the groups that will benefit from having this information,” said medical officer of health Dr. Richard Gould. The index is presented on a scale from one to 10 with associated health messages to help Nova Scotians understand what the air quality means to their health. It can be of particular use as a preventative health measure to groups considered to be at higher risk to air pollution. Forecasted index levels are also provided to help people plan their days. The index is calculated based on the risks of a combination of common air pollutants which are known to harm humans. It was funded and developed by a national team led by the government of Canada, and included the departments of Environment and Health Promotion and Protection. It is now available in 40 locations across Canada. “The Air Quality Health Index will provide information about the health risks from air pollution and be particularly valuable for people with lung conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” said Louis Brill, president and CEO, Lung Association of Nova Scotia. “We are thrilled to partner with the departments of Environment and Health Promotion and Protection on this exciting initiative.” Implementation of the index in the province will address a commitment in the Climate Change Action Plan that states Nova Scotians must be provided with better information about the quality of air. For information on air quality in the province, visit www.airhealth.ca .