Community Based Air Monitoring Project launches

News Releases

Yellowknife — September 15, 2022

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is announcing a new air quality monitoring project. This project will allow residents to join local governments and the GNWT in collecting air quality data in their area.

Starting this fall, the GNWT will begin giving out small air quality sensors as part of the Community Based Air Monitoring Project. These sensors monitor fine particulate matter in the air from wildfire smoke, vehicle emissions, and industrial activity. Data collected from these 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.

Residents can sign up to host a sensor, which will automatically share data to an online platform which will be accessible to the public and updated in real-time. This data will help community members make decisions about staying indoors and/or reducing activities if the air quality in their area deteriorates. It will also provide a baseline of data across the territory, for comparisons over time. 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.

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. Small Air Quality Sensors offer a way to measure air quality in communities without a station. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection and a power source.

Provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada, in partnership with NWT Association of Communities (NWTAC), the sensors will be distributed free of charge by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), to any resident willing to host one.

To sign up, contact John McKay at or (867) 445-3152.


“This exciting new project, with the support of NWT residents, will give us a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the air quality across the Northwest Territories. The data collected will give us valuable insight into the impacts of climate change and other factors affecting air quality in the NWT.”

- Shane Thompson, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources

Quick facts

  • Three small air quality sensors were installed and tested last winter in Yellowknife and performed well under extreme cold conditions.
  • A Small Air Quality Sensor costs approximately $500 whereas a PM2.5 analyzer used at full air quality stations is approximately $25,000.
  • The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will provide free monitors and training to interested volunteers.

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For media requests, please contact:

Jessica Davey-Quantick

Communications Planning Specialist

Department Environment and Natural Resources

Government of the Northwest Territories

 (867) 767-9231  Ext. 53046