Air quality advisories issued across Alberta due to wildfire smoke

Smoke obscures the sight of the Calgary Tower on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Global News

Special air quality statements remained in place in roughly half of Alberta on Monday due to considerable wildfire smoke.

The special weather statements from Environment and Climate Change Canada were originally issued on Saturday, Aug. 14.

The statements, which include Calgary and Lethbridge, warned that smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility.

Read more: Alberta continues to set records during hot, smoky summer

“Air quality and visibility due to wildfire smoke can fluctuate over short distances and can vary considerably from hour to hour,” the national weather agency said.

The smoke and poor air quality can cause people to suffer from throat irritation, coughing, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.

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Smoke is seen in Calgary on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Global News

“Wildfire smoke is a constantly changing mixture of particles and gases, which includes many chemicals that can harm your health,” ECCC warned.

“If your home is not air-conditioned, be sure the house doesn’t get too warm when doors and windows are closed to keep out smoke. Exposure to too much heat can also result in illness.”

In Calgary, the air quality was so poor on Monday that the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders cancelled outdoor practice.

At 11 a.m. on Monday, ECCC listed Calgary’s Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) at seven (high risk), with it forecast to sit at eight (high risk) during the day.

At 11 a.m. on Monday, ECCC listed Lethbridge’s AQHI at eight (high risk), with it forecast to sit at seven (high risk) during the day.

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On Monday at around 9:30 p.m., ECCC ended the special air quality statement for much of the province.

Wildfire smoke in Calgary on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Tom Reynolds / Global News

Kyle Fougère, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said this is the second-smokiest summer on record in the Calgary area.

“There have been 417 hours of smoky conditions in Calgary. The only summer worse is 2018, with 450 hours recorded. Because we have several weeks of summer to go, it’s possible we could break that record this year.”

He added air quality should improve quite a bit towards the end of the week.

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