It’s predicted air quality in Alberta will worsen this weekend as smoke from wildfires in B.C. and the western U.S. continues to settle over the province.
An Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is used to educate people on the potential risk level when exposed to poor air conditions. The index uses a number from 1 to 10 to denote the risk level; the higher the number, the higher the risk to your health.
As of 9 a.m. on Friday, Alberta Environment and Parks listed Calgary’s AQHI as 3 (low risk) with it forecast to reach 4 (moderate risk) by Friday night and climb to 5 (moderate risk) on Saturday.
Edmonton’s AQHI sat at 2 (low risk) and was forecast to sit at 3 (low risk) by Friday evening and climb to 4 (moderate risk) by Saturday.
Lethbridge’s AQHI as 3 (low risk) with it forecast to reach 4 (moderate risk) by Friday night and climb to 5 (moderate risk) on Saturday.
Though poor air quality impacts everyone, Alberta Health Services warns those most at risk are people with respiratory conditions such as COPD and asthma, and those with existing cardiovascular conditions.
Smoke can also be harmful to pets and it’s advised people keep them inside as much as possible and make sure they have lots of water.
On its website, AHS suggests people avoid exposure to air with an elevated AQHI by closing windows and doors, turning down furnace thermostats and fans, keeping the fresh-air intake closed on air conditioners and avoid running fans.
Additionally, AHS says you can switch floor registers to a closed position, close dampers on wood-burning fireplaces and/or stop using them altogether.
If you’re driving, you can run air in your vehicle on re-circulate
Two other tips are to avoid smoking — which AHS says puts additional strain on your lungs — and to reduce physical activity to lessen your chances of inhaling airborne pollutants.
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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