Info-Smog now serving 7.2 million Quebeckers all year round

MONTREAL, May 17 /CNW Telbec/ – Environment Canada, in collaboration with
the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (MSDEP),
the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services and its regional Public
Health officials (including the City of Montreal), for the thirteenth
consecutive year, is renewing the Info-Smog program for air quality.


This year, important changes are being introduced. Info-Smog now becomes
a year-round program, with no distinction between the summer and winter
versions. Furthermore, meteorological forecasting for new areas is now
available for the program’s extended geographical coverage. New areas affected
are: Montmagny – L’Islet, Kamouraska – Rivi?re-du-Loup – Trois-Pistoles,
T?miscouata, Abitibi, T?miscamingue, the Saguenay and Lac-Saint-Jean.
Info-Smog is an air quality forecasting and warning program that aims at
informing the population about ambient air quality, particularly when smog
concentrations are likely to reach or have reached levels that are harmful to
health and the environment. By bringing together Environment Canada’s weather
expertise with the air quality monitoring networks of partners, namely the
City of Montreal and the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development,
Environment and Parks, the Meteorological Service of Canada can now forecast
the evolution of air quality during the next 36-hour period.
“I would like to congratulate each of the partners for a job well done
over the past 13 years, to make Info-Smog such a success. This collaborative
approach has meant a steady expansion of this program across Quebec, helping
citizens to better protect their health from the harmful effects of smog,”
said Rona Ambrose, Environment Canada Minister. “I encourage Canadians to ride
a bus, organize a carpool, take a bike or even walk to help reduce smog in
their communities.”
“I am pleased with recent improvements to our air quality monitoring
program, notably with respect to measuring fine particulates and the
enlargement of the total territory covered by the program, which means that
nearly 7.2 million people – 95% of Quebec’s population – now benefit from the
data that we have collected with our partners.” said the Minister of
Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks and Deputy Government House
Leader, Mister Claude B?chard.
The air quality forecast is made up of three categories: GOOD, FAIR and
POOR. When the category POOR is forecast, a smog warning is issued for the
regions concerned. This lets the population take appropriate action to reduce
pollution emissions in the atmosphere and to protect themselves against the
harmful effects on health.
Generally and for all four seasons, fine particulates are most often
responsible for poor air quality. However during summer, ozone levels also
contribute to the degradation of air quality. It is mainly ozone level
precursors, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides
(NOX), products used specifically by motor vehicles and industry, which are
responsible for poor air quality in summer. We must remember also, that
cross-border atmospheric movement also carries with it significant pollutants.
During winter, it is mainly local sources of fine particulates – woodburning
stoves, transport and industry – which contribute to the degradation of air
quality.
The Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services, Mister Philippe
Couillard emphasized in his message that “the Info-Smog program is the best
possible way to warn susceptible people when air quality is poor and it allows
us to recommend that they decrease any outdoor physical activity in order to
lessen their exposure to smog.” We must also keep in mind that during periods
of smog, certain symptoms can affect the most vulnerable, including young
children, seniors and those suffering from cardio-respiratory problems. Local
Info-Health service provide specific health information.
Info-Smog forecasts and advisories will be distributed through the usual
Environment Canada communication channels and will also be available on the
websites of the different partners. Advisories will also be displayed on
Quebec Ministry of Transport electronic traffic signage as well as M?trovision
screens installed in certain Montreal metro stations.
The Info-Smog program is an excellent example of the partnership between
the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, the
Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services and its regional Public Health
offices, the City of Montreal and Environment Canada. For the Quebec
population, this new stage in the evolution of the Info-Smog program is an
important milestone towards greater access to, and better information on,
daily air quality.
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/For further information: please contact: Jacques Lavigne, Communications
Advisor, Environment Canada, (514) 386-1896; Natacha Beauchesne,
Communications Officer, City of Montreal, (514) 872-6013; C?line Gagn?, In
charge of Media Relations, Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development,
Environment and Parks, (418) 521-3823 ext. 4914; Dominique Breton, Media
Relations with Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, (418) 266-8942;
Marie Pinard, Information Officer, Montreal Public Health Division, (514)
528-2400, ext. 3471/

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