A special air quality statement issued by Environment Canada Sunday evening for the Edmonton region was dropped early Monday morning, but remained in place south of the city.
Issued at 10:08 p.m., the statement advised “smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility.” It was ended for the Edmonton area just before 4:30 a.m.
The special air quality statement remains in effect for the central and southern portion of the province, from the Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer regions south to the the U.S. border.
“A plume of smoke from forest fires in the vicinity of Banff National Park and central British Columbia are causing elevated values of the Air Quality Health Index this evening as a cold front moves through southern Alberta. Air Quality is expected to improve from north to south on Monday however areas closer to the foothills may see elevated AQHI values persist,” the statement read.
“Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.”
The statement suggested those with breathing difficulties should find an indoor place that is cool and ventilated. “Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help. If you open the windows you may let in more polluted air. If your home isn’t air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned.”
Edmonton’s Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) was at a 7 on Sunday afternoon, which is on the high risk end of the scale.
The AQHI hovered between 2 and 3 throughout much of the day Sunday, but jumped in the early afternoon as smoke from the B.C. wildfires began moving into the region.
Shortly before 5 p.m., the AQHI was lowered to 4 in Edmonton, which is on the moderate area of the scale.
Alberta Health measures the AQHI on a scale of 1 to 10. The higher the number, the greater the health risk.
With Edmonton’s risk Sunday, health officials recommended reducing or rescheduling strenuous outdoor activities if you start to cough or have throat irritation. Children and seniors in particular were asked to take it easy.
A number of wildfires in B.C. were fuelled by strong winds Saturday, which led to a number of new evacuation orders. Nearly 37,000 people have been displaced by the fires.
On Sunday, there were 160 wildfires burning across B.C.
For up-to-date information on the air quality across the province, visit Alberta Health’s website.
To see a radar map of the smoke forecast, visit Alberta Wildfire’s website.
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Watch below: Ongoing video coverage of the B.C. wildfires