Environment Canada said that “smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility.”
The alert covers all of southern Alberta and parts of western Alberta, including Jasper and Banff national parks.
As of 11:30 a.m. Saturday, the warnings included the Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat areas and stretched up to the Drumheller and Airdrie regions. On the western side of the province, the warning covered a more northern area up to Jasper National Park.
Calgary’s Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) was listed as a moderate five on Saturday morning, but the province warned it could reach a high seven by the end of the day.
Environment Canada said early Sunday morning that the special air quality statement had ended for Rocky View County near Cochrane and Calgary because “smoke is no longer expected or has moved out of the area.”
The AQHI is used to educate people on the potential risk level when exposed to poor air conditions. The index uses a number from one to 10 to denote the risk level; the higher the number, the higher the risk to your health.
At seven, it’s recommended that people with at-risk conditions like asthma should reduce or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities. Those without conditions should be careful to monitor symptoms like coughing or irritation, and should also reschedule if they are being affected.
Airdrie, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat were expected to reach an AQHI rating of seven on Saturday.
“Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath,” Environment Canada said. “Wildfire smoke is a constantly changing mixture of particles and gasses, which includes many chemicals that can harm your health.”
Environment Canada said the weather system that brought the smoke into the region is expected to move through the area overnight and conditions should improve by Sunday.
This is the second smoke warning that southern Alberta has been placed under over the last week.