Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards

Alberta air zone reports and regional action plans.

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The Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) are part of a collaborative national Air Quality Management System (AQMS), to better protect human health and the environment.

In October, 2012, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) agreed to the new CAAQS for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone. New CAAQS for sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were developed and will be effective in 2020.

The CCME have developed a State of the Air website to provide information on the AQMS and CAAQS across Canada.

Management levels and standards

As part of the AQMS, Alberta was divided into six air zones. The ambient monitoring data for each air zone is assessed annually to make sure they meet the national air quality standards and management levels.

The management levels are represented by the colours green, yellow, orange, and red. Each management level has an air quality objective:

Management level Air quality objective
Green To maintain good air quality through proactive air management measures to keep clean areas clean.
Yellow To improve air quality using early and ongoing actions for continuous improvement.
Orange To improve air quality through active air management and prevent exceedance of the CAAQS.
Red To reduce pollutant levels below the CAAQS through advanced air management actions.

When an air zone report indicates that an air zone is in the orange or red management level, a management plan must be developed for that air zone. The Management plans section below provides information on the management plans in place for Alberta.

Air zone reports

The annual air zone reports along with supplementary information on the CAAQS and the document outlining Alberta’s implementation of the Air Zone Management Framework are available below.

CAAQS tables

The following tables outline the CAAQS effective dates and management levels for each substance.

Unit Definition
ppb Parts per billion
µg m-3 The weight, in micrograms, of the substance in one cubic metre of air

Table 1: O3

Management Level O3 8-hour (ppb)
2015 2020 2025
Red (CAAQS) > 63 > 62 > 60
Orange 57 to 63 57 to 62 57 to 60
Yellow 51 to 56 51 to 56 51 to 56
Green ≤ 50 ≤ 50 ≤ 50

Table 2: PM2.5

Management Level PM2.5 24-hour (µg m-3) PM2.5 annual (µg m-3)
2015 2020 2015 2020
Red (CAAQS) > 28 > 27 > 10.0 > 8.8
Orange 20 to 28 20 to 27 6.5 to 10.0 6.5 to 8.8
Yellow 11 to 19 11 to 19 4.1 to 6.4 4.1 to 6.4
Green ≤ 10 ≤ 10 ≤ 4.0 ≤ 4.0

Table 3: SO2

Management Level SO2 1-hour (ppb) SO2 annual (ppb)
2020 2025 2020 2025
Red (CAAQS) > 70 > 65 > 5.0 > 4.0
Orange 51 to 70 51 to 65 3.1 to 5.0 3.1 to 4.0
Yellow 31 to 50 31 to 50 2.1 to 3.0 2.1 to 3.0
Green ≤ 30 ≤ 30 ≤ 2.0 ≤ 2.0

Table 4: NO2

Management Level NO2 1-hour (ppb) NO2 annual (ppb)
2020 2025 2020 2025
Red (CAAQS) > 60 > 42 > 17.0 > 12.0
Orange 32 to 60 32 to 42 7.1 to 17.0 7.1 to 12.0
Yellow 21 to 31 21 to 31 2.1 to 7.0 2.1 to 7.0
Green ≤ 20 ≤ 20 ≤ 2.0 ≤ 2.0

Alberta's air zones

The following map shows Alberta's six air zones, which are based on the Land-use Framework Regions.

The CAAQS replace the Canada-wide Standards for Fine Particulate Matter and Ozone, which were established in June 2000 by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). The Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) developed a Particulate Matter and Ozone Management Framework and the Government of Alberta adopted this framework as Alberta's commitment to achieve Canada-wide Standard levels by the 2010 target date.

For more information on the CASA Particulate Matter and Ozone Management Framework and results of historical annual assessments, please see:

Management plans

The Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) assessment titled Alberta: Air Zones Report 2011 - 2013 for fine particulate matter and ozone was published in September 2015 for 2011 to 2013 monitoring data. In response to this report, Alberta committed to developing regional action plans for all six air zones.

The following reports provide information on the management level for each air zone and a summary of management actions committed to by the Government of Alberta in response to the assigned management level in each region.

Lower Athabasca Air Zone

North Saskatchewan Air Zone

Peace Air Zone

Red Deer Air Zone



South Saskatchewan Air Zone

Upper Athabasca Air Zone