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ALLERGIES and AIR QUALITY in Ottawa Canada

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Everything you Need to Know About ALLERGIES and AIR QUALITY in Ottawa Canada

This is the ultimate guide for ALLERGIES and AIR QUALITY in Ottawa Canada that you need to know when you live in a city like Ottawa, where the air quality can fluctuate depending on the season, and allergies can become even more of a nuisance, especially when you’re trying to enjoy a nice day out at the park or take a stroll through the neighbourhood without feeling like you’ve been hit by a truckload of pollen. But fear not, my fellow allergy sufferers. With a little bit of knowledge about the allergens in your local environment and some tips for improving air quality, you can breathe easy and enjoy all that Ottawa has to offer without having to constantly reach for the Kleenex. But before we get into it – SHOW REEL – HIT IT!

Living in Ottawa has its perks, and one of them is the plentiful outdoor activities available to all who live here. With the city surrounded by the unique and beautiful Greenbelt, there are numerous public parks, outdoor spaces, and nature trails to relish throughout the year. Be it hiking, cycling, or skiing, Ottawa has something for everyone. Residents can also spend their days picnicking, fishing, or even bird-watching. Thanks to the city’s commitment to providing natural areas for its inhabitants, there’s always ample opportunity to spend time surrounded by nature. It is no wonder some residents of the city suffer from allergies as well.

As a city-dweller, air quality can be a concern, and Ottawa is no exception. With a population of over one million, this city is bustling with activity, and that means pollution can be an issue. But it’s not just pollution you need to worry about – allergens can also play a big role in air quality. Whether you’re new to the city or a lifelong resident, understanding these two key factors can help you stay informed and take steps to protect your health. So, let’s dive in and explore what you need to know about air quality and allergens when Living in Ottawa.

Air Pollution

Air pollution can make it hard to breathe and aggravate conditions like asthma. At high levels, it creates health hazards for everyone from young children to senior citizens. Clean air is healthy air. 

In general, Ottawans enjoy good air quality and low levels of air pollution. That’s excellent news for everyone considering moving to Ottawa. Ontario has made significant investments in clean air over the past decade and those efforts have paid off. Throughout the province, air quality is better now than it was in 2011.

You may wonder why we’re talking about the whole province when talking about the air in Ottawa. Air is shared, and pollution doesn’t stay where it’s produced. 

Reducing industrial pollution in Hamilton, Sudbury, and Sarnia helped clear the air in the whole province. Ontario eliminated coal as a source of electricity and continues to work with industry to follow suit.

Monitoring shows that province-wide initiatives are working. Pollutants that cause smog have decreased from 13-50% and in 2020 Ontario reported low-risk air quality throughout the province on 96% of days.

Air Pollution in Ottawa

Ottawa is not home to a lot of industry that creates air pollution. The main culprit in our city is traffic. The overall air quality in Ottawa is excellent, with the government reporting low risk most of the time. That means that for most people, being outdoors is safe and healthy.

However, people with asthma or other health issues should pay attention to one specific measurement. Sometimes Ottawa falls into the moderate range for particulate pollution. This type of pollution comes from many sources including diesel trucks and other transportation, smoke, and soot.

Today, as I record this, Ottawa’s air quality as reported by Accuweather is classified as fair. The two particle pollution categories are the only ones outside of the excellent scale. At the same time, IQAir reports moderate air quality due to particle pollution. 

The Canadian and Ontario governments use a different scale, reporting air quality as a risk level. They both indicate low risk, ideal for general population outdoor activities.

As you can see, air quality varies depending on the reporting method and the source. For most of you, air pollution will not be an issue in your daily life. However, particle pollution is not all about traffic.

In the summer of 2021, Environment Canada issued a warning for Ottawa residents. This air quality advisory was the result of wildfires in Northwest Ontario. Smoke caused air quality to drop and even decreased visibility.

Weather can affect air pollution. Levels are likely to be lower when there is a breeze and after rain or snow. Stagnant, humid air can make it worse. 

Another particle pollution culprit is one many of you are familiar with pollen. That leads us right into our next section. Let’s talk about allergies in Ottawa.

Allergies in Ottawa

Pollen isn’t like other air pollution. Eliminating it isn’t an option. All of our wonderful natural areas need it to survive. 

Pollen is produced by trees, grasses, and weeds – especially ragweed. It’s powdery and can be coarse or fine. You can think of pollen as tiny little seeds that are carried off by the wind and sometimes right up your nose. Those seeds that remain outside are vital to the reproduction of plants and trees.

There is no question that Ottawa has pollen! It tends to be most abundant in the spring when trees flower and in the fall when it’s produced by weeds. Ottawa’s natural areas have a lot of grasses, which produce pollen in the summer. It’s a three-season extravaganza that you probably wipe off outdoor surfaces frequently.

For many, pollen is no big deal beyond some cleaning. For those with allergies, it can cause runny noses, sneezing, and itchy eyes. It can also make asthma and other respiratory illnesses worse.

So how do you handle allergy season when living in Ottawa? In the spring when pollen counts are highest, your best chance for outdoor fun without a runny nose is after a rain. A well-fitting mask also helps filter out irritating tree pollen.  

Despite the many grassy areas in Ottawa, pollen counts tend to go down for a brief respite mid-summer. Our grasses produce far less pollen than our trees. Autumn sees a little uptick as ragweed and its friends get going, but this season is shorter, with less pollen, than the spring.

Most allergy sufferers have devised ways to avoid the worst of the pollen that causes them the most trouble. Whether it’s with help from an allergist, staying indoors when counts are high, or donning a mask, allergies don’t stop Ottawans from enjoying outdoor entertainment.

It’s worth noting that winter is an excellent season for those with allergies. During Ottawa’s cold winters pollen counts are negligible. Skiing, sledding, skating, hockey, and winter festivals are available all over the city. 

Unlike other cities, Ottawa embraces its winter. Symptom-free outdoor fun can be hard to come by in most cities. Ottawa offers it all winter long.

The best way to deal with pollen is to know when it’s at its highest. You can find daily pollen counts on many weather sites. Look for one that tells you what is creating the pollen as well as how much is in the local air. 

The Weather Channel breaks down its counts into three categories: tree pollen, grass pollen, and ragweed pollen. Pollen City breaks it down by trees, grass, and bushes.

Different trees make pollen at different times, so know what types of trees are in your yard. Maples and willows kick right in during March, while pines and birches don’t rev up until June. 


So how does Ottawa compare to other cities when it comes to air pollution and allergies? As you can tell from the different ways air quality is measured, comparisons can be hard. But no matter how you slice it, Canada and Ottawa come out looking pretty good.

IQAir rates countries based on World Health Organization guidelines. They rated 131 countries in 2022. Chad came in at number one for the most air pollution, at nearly 90 times over the guidelines. Canada doesn’t appear on the list until all the way down at number 111, with slightly cleaner air than Luxembourg.

The Canadian government shows only a handful of cities at moderate air quality risk, including Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec, and Prince George. Ottawa is at low risk.

Comparing cities in Canada is like comparing apples and oranges when it comes to air pollution. Urban and industrial areas are always going to have more pollution than most rural areas. Among Ontario’s cities, CTV news reports that Ottawa has less air pollution than Montreal, but more than Toronto, Edmonton, or Vancouver.

As you can see, air quality measurements depend on who is doing the measuring. What everyone agrees on is that Canada, including Ottawa, has some of the best overall air quality in the world. 

Ottawa likely has more pollen and other natural allergens than other cities of its size across the world. Because of Ottawa’s unique large green spaces, lots of mature trees, and plenty of natural areas, allergies are just a fact of life for Ottawans. 

For most, it’s a minor inconvenience made well worth it by the gorgeous scenery and plentiful outdoor recreation. 

If you’re moving to Ottawa and are concerned about air quality, check local reports. You may want to choose a neighbourhood away from main highways and other areas with dense populations and lots of traffic.

Choosing a suburb or outlying community can decrease your exposure to transportation pollution. If you’re at risk for health issues from air pollution, check for industry or other sources of pollution before choosing a home. 

Since some sources of pollution are natural, it’s impossible to avoid them all. Home and car air filters and well-fitting masks can help decrease your exposure if you’re near congested highways for long periods.


Ottawa’s air quality is generally excellent. But it’s good to know the conditions on any given day. Wildfires, pollen, and other factors may reduce the air quality in your area at times. Take care when it’s warranted and enjoy Ottawa’s great outdoors when the weather and air are clear. 

Take advantage of low pollen counts in the winter at festivals and sledding hills. Enjoy public natural areas far from traffic. Head to one of the hundreds of public parks located in quiet neighbourhoods. Ottawa and Ontario are proud of our clean air and work hard to make it better every year. As clean energy use increases and industrial emissions decrease we’ll continue to enjoy the benefits with every breath.  

Are you concerned about the air quality and allergens in your city? It’s important to stay informed and make the right choices for your family’s health. We’ve got you covered with links in the video description that can help with your research on these topics. Don’t underestimate the effects of poor air quality and allergens on your family’s health. Take the time to do your research and make informed decisions to protect your loved ones. Whether you’re in Ottawa or another city across the world, you can be in the know with these helpful site links. Stay informed and take control of your family’s health.

Living in Ottawa provides endless opportunities for outdoor activities, with an abundance of public parks and natural areas at your disposal. However, one aspect that you should consider is allergies. Pollen from trees, grass, and flowers can cause a range of symptoms from sneezing and runny nose to itchy eyes and throat irritation. Keeping this in mind, be sure to plan your outdoor activities during low-pollen times of the day, such as after a rain shower or in the late afternoon. And don’t forget to pack allergy medication just in case. Despite allergies, Ottawa’s dedication to providing green spaces for residents is truly one of the best parts of living here.

And if you are thinking of relocating to Ottawa feel free to reach out to us. Give us a call – shoot us a text – send us an email – or even wrap it in a bow and send it first class because we got your back when moving to Ottawa or anywhere across Canada.




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