Special air quality statement for Calgary continues, AQHI forecast to be ‘high risk’ Friday

Click to play video: 'Forest fires cause special air quality statement in Calgary' Forest fires cause special air quality statement in Calgary
WATCH: Forest fires in BC and southern Alberta are to blame for a special air quality statement issued for Calgary. Doug Vaessen reports – Sep 8, 2017

A special air quality statement for Calgary remained in place on Friday amid lingering smoke from forest fires in B.C. and southern Alberta.

The statement, originally issued by Environment Canada on Thursday afternoon, warned smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility.

READ MORE: Fire ban warning amped as wildfire conditions, air quality remain extreme in southwestern Alberta

The organization expects conditions to gradually improve late Friday into Saturday as a cold front sweeps across the province from the northwest.

Calgary’s current Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)

As of 3:40 p.m. on Friday, Alberta Environment and Parks listed Calgary’s Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) at 6 (moderate risk), with it forecast to sit at 7 (high risk) throughout the day and 6 (moderate risk) on Saturday.

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Precautions to take amid potential health concerns

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 affected 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 fireplace 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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