A file photo from 2019 of haze generated by wildfire smoke from northern Alberta descending over Yellowknife. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio
Small air quality monitors are being handed out for free across the Northwest Territories so residents can help fill gaps in data.
The sensors can detect particles in the air from wildfiresmoke, vehicle emissions and industrial activity. If you give them wi-fi and power, they automatically share the data they collect.
The federal government and NWT Association of Communities have partnered to provide the sensors. The GNWT is distributing them.
Normally, each sensor would cost $500. According to the GNWT, they were tested in Yellowknife last winter and performed well in extreme cold.
Giving sensors to residents is “a way to measure air quality in communities without a station,” the territorial government said in a news release.
“Air quality monitoring stations already operate in Inuvik, Norman Wells, Fort Smith, Yellowknife and Fort Simpson. While these stations measure a number of air quality parameters, they are more expensive to run and require special training to operate,” the territory stated.
“Data collected from [the new] sensors will help to fill gaps in data in areas that don’t have community air quality monitoring stations. They will also serve to augment information gathered in communities where air quality is already monitored.
“This information will be valuable as the GNWT works to measure the impact and intensity of climate change and events like wildfires that can affect air quality.”
Data will also appear in an online map, allowing people to check real-time air quality across the NWT.