Condition of the environment – Air indicators

Learn about indicators reporting on Alberta’s air quality.

About air indicators

Alberta’s Environmental Science Program monitors air quality across the province to better understand long-term changes over space and time. Explore the air indicators below to:

  • learn more about why these indicators are important
  • read about trends in Alberta’s air quality
  • access additional data and resources

Explore air indicators

Fine particulate matter gets into the atmosphere due to human activities and natural emission sources like wildfire smoke.
The major sources of nitrogen dioxide are the burning of fuels for vehicles, home heating, and industrial processes.
Ozone is a major component of smog, which is a mixture of gases and particles emitted into the air by human activities.

The major source of sulphur dioxide is the burning of sulphur-containing materials from industrial sources.

Icon depicting cloud of smoke bordered by a blue circle.

Wildfire smoke

Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of gases and particles and a major contributor to poor air quality. 

Use of indicators

The condition of environment indicators report on the current state and trends in Alberta’s air across the province. The air indicators were selected, prepared and reported on to meet this purpose. Other types of reporting, such as reporting against the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (through Alberta’s Air Zone Reports) or compliance reporting near an industrial facility, have different purposes and requirements. Therefore, other reporting may use different data sets, data analysis methods, or time periods and are not directly comparable to the condition of environment reporting. For further details, visit:

Air monitoring

Alberta’s air is continually monitored to establish levels of air quality and the amount of air pollution deposited on Alberta’s land and water from airborne sources. To learn more about air monitoring, and to access data, see: Environmental monitoring.

Feature resource

The 5-year air quality and deposition monitoring, evaluation and reporting (MER) plan provides a roadmap and framework for the delivery of monitoring, evaluation and reporting activities being undertaken in partnership with stakeholders from 2021 to 2025. The plan contains 37 implementation items aimed at achieving 3 key outcomes including:

  1. providing the data and information required to manage air quality and deposition within environmental limits;
  2. reporting air quality information in real-time to inform the public and emergency response personnel about risk to human health; and
  3. sharing technical information on monitoring methods, and address current and emerging air quality and deposition issues.

Learn about the 5-year air quality and deposition plan.

Related publications

Scientific Paper: An approach to inform air quality management through receptor source apportionment and thermodynamic modelling of fine particulate matter in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada 
Date published: March 2023
Authors: Aklilu, Y.A., C. Adams, G.R. Wentworth, M. Mazur, and E. Dabek-Zlotorzynska

Report: Status of air quality in Alberta: air zones report 2019-2021
Date published: August 2023
Authors: Brown, C., and A. Thi

Factsheet: PurpleAir PA-II air quality sensor
Date published: September 2022
Authors: Environment and Protected Areas

Browse more publications