How Kirkland Lake Uses PurpleAir to Help Protect Public Health
Even if your community implements the best practices to improve air quality, you can still experience air pollution from neighboring regions.
Take Kirkland Lake as an example. The small town in Ontario, Canada, has great air quality most of the year. Yet, residents still experience high-pollution days because of the wildfire smoke from nearby areas. As such, locals are susceptible to air pollution-related illnesses like asthma, respiratory infections, and cancer.
As a solution, the Timiskaming Health Unit is developing an air quality project using PurpleAir monitors. With it, Kirkland Lake can gather hyper-local air quality data specific to its region. Then, they can issue faster and more accurate air quality advisories that empower residents to protect themselves from poor air quality.
The State of Air Quality in Ontario
Kirkland Lake is a town located in Northeastern Ontario, Canada, under the Timiskaming district. Surrounded by prominent forests, mountains, and several bodies of water, it generally has good air quality. In fact, the Ontario Air Quality 2020 Report observed that the province reduced sulfur dioxide by 50%, nitrogen dioxide by 25%, and particulate matter by 17% in the previous ten years. Plus, the government issued zero smog advisories for 2020.
Ontario's air quality is so healthy that it had low-risk air quality levels for 96% of the year. However, this does not mean that it’s completely exempt from bad air days.
Because air is constantly moving, it can carry air pollution from one place to another. For example, the smoke from wildfires in Quebec can travel to Northeastern Ontario, raising air quality warnings and worsening health issues.
Not only that, but air pollution can also evolve during the time it travels from one location to another and become a secondary pollutant. This is called transboundary air pollution, and it accounts for 25-87% of air pollution in Ontario.
As such, air quality monitoring must be done on a hyper-local level as well as a national level. This way, communities get faster and more accurate air quality data that empowers them to make data-driven decisions. With this in mind, Kirkland Lake is working with PurpleAir monitors to improve its air quality management.
How Kirkland Lake is Improving Air Quality Monitoring with PurpleAir
The Timiskaming Health Unit is partnering with the Meteorological Services of Canada to distribute ten PurpleAir air quality monitors across Kirkland Lake. By doing so, they aim to close the air quality data gap in Northern Ontario.
More importantly, they aim to protect public health by providing timely air quality alerts during significant air quality events. This is especially significant as Timiskaming is home to many Indigenous groups who are more vulnerable to wildfires.
Already, the air quality project has built an online platform where residents can receive air quality alerts via email. You can also view the air quality data on the government’s air quality map and the PurpleAir Map. As this community project gains momentum, the organizers plan to further expand it to the Porcupine Health Unit, which has one of the biggest populations of First Nations people.
We look forward to the positive impact that this air quality project is bringing to communities in Canada. Together, we’re working to make air quality data accessible for everyone.
Connect With PurpleAir
At PurpleAir, there are tons of organizations and researchers around the world using our data—from Google to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We’re thrilled to see research like the one we analyzed above be used to help local neighborhoods, and we look forward to seeing more in the future.
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