Special air quality statement issued for Calgary ends, AQHI forecast to be ‘low risk’ Friday

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WATCH ABOVE: Video shows thick smoke from B.C. wildfires hanging over Calgary – Jul 19, 2017

A special air quality statement for Calgary originally issued by Environment Canada on Wednesday ended on Thursday evening.

The statement was put into place as forest fires generated huge amounts of smoke over Western Canada which has crossed the Rocky Mountains and settled into much of central Alberta.

Environment Canada ended the statement just before midnight.

Calgary’s current Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)

As of 8 a.m. on Friday, Alberta Environment and Parks listed Calgary’s Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) at 2 (low risk), with it forecast to stay at that level throughout the day and sit at 3 (low risk) on Saturday.

Precautions to take amid potential health concerns

Environment Canada warned residents in Calgary and visitors to the city may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath due to the smoke. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.

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According to the AHS website, when an air quality advisory is in effect, all individuals living in or travelling within the affected area are advised to take the following precautions to reduce exposure and risk:

  • If air quality is because of smoke reduce presence of smoke in indoor environments:
    • Close and lock all outside windows and doors, including attached garage doors.
    • Turn down furnace thermostats and furnace fans to the minimum setting. Do not attempt to extinguish pilot light.
    • If you have an air-conditioner, keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.
    • Avoid running fans, such as “whole-house fans” or “fresh air ventilation systems”, that bring more smoky outdoor air inside.
    • Switch all floor registers to closed position.
    • Close fire place dampers on wood burning fireplaces.
    • Do not use wood burning fireplace, wood stoves or other smoke-producing appliances or features, including candles.
  • If you must drive to another location, keep windows and vents closed. Run car fans on re-circulate mode to avoid drawing in outdoor air.
  • Reduce levels of physical activity, as necessary, to decrease the inhalation of airborne pollutants.
  • Do not smoke tobacco – smoking puts added stress on your lungs and those around you.
  • Residents are reminded not to use backyard fire pits or fire boxes in parks when the air quality risk is high or very high, as it is now.

Individuals with respiratory conditions (such as COPD and asthma), and individuals with existing cardiovascular conditions (such as angina, previous heart attack and congestive heart failure), may notice a worsening of symptoms. These individuals should take the precautions routinely recommended by their physicians if a worsening of symptoms occurs.

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Children and elderly are also at higher risk of smoke-related illness.

More information

For up-to-date information on the air quality across the province, visit Alberta Health’s website.

Individuals experiencing symptoms can also call Health Link at 811 to speak to a registered nurse.

To see a radar map of the smoke forecast, visit Alberta Wildfire’s website.

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