Air Quality

Air quality in the NWT

Clean air is essential to our well-being. The decisions we make every day, at home and at work, affect the quality of the air we breathe. While air quality in the Northwest Territories (NWT) is generally very good, we all share responsibility for clean air to contribute to healthy communities, resilient ecosystems and a sustainable economy for the future.

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) works to protect and manage air quality in the NWT by:

  • Monitoring air quality across the NWT as part of a Canada-wide network
  • Providing recommendations and oversight during industrial regulatory processes
  • Providing current and historical air quality data, including real-time data from four community monitoring stations in Inuvik, Norman Wells, Fort Smith and Yellowknife
  • Participating in the Canada-wide Air Quality Management System to ensure consistent air quality management across the country

Air Quality Monitoring Program

The GNWT operates four state-of-the-art continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations in Fort Smith, Inuvik, Norman Wells and Yellowknife. Each of these stations samples and analyzes air quality on a continuous basis for a variety of parameters including dust and chemicals. The network is part of the National Air Pollution Surveillance Network (NAPS), a federal air quality monitoring program operated across the country.

Real-time data from these four stations are available on the Air Quality Monitoring Program website. The site also provides information about the monitoring network, including current and historical air quality monitoring data and additional information.

For information on air quality monitoring as part of the Giant Mine Remediation Project, please visit the webpage for the Giant Mine Ambient Air Monitoring Program.

​Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network

The GNWT works with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CAPMoN) to run two network stations at Snare Rapids and Wood Buffalo National Park. The data from these stations assist in the study of regional patterns and trends of atmospheric pollutants in air and precipitation.

Air Quality Health Index

High levels of dust and other pollutants in the air can cause difficulty breathing, headaches, and eye, nose or throat irritation.

The national Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is a health risk communication tool that forecasts health risks related to air quality on a scale from 1 to 10 and provides information on how NWT residents can protect themselves when air quality is poor, such as during wildfire season.

The AQHI is currently available for Yellowknife, Fort Smith and Inuvik and will be available for Norman Wells in the future.

Resources

Annual reports

The GNWT publishes annual NWT Air Quality Reports. These reports summarize the air quality information collected for the given year. Each report also provides information on: air quality monitoring network operations, air pollutants monitored, air quality standards used to assess the monitoring results, and a discussion of trends in NWT air quality.