Air quality statements issued for much of Alberta due to B.C. wildfire smoke

·2 min read
Air quality in Edmonton is at moderate risk Sunday morning, according to  Environment Canada's air quality health index. (Trevor Howlett/CBC - image credit)
Air quality in Edmonton is at moderate risk Sunday morning, according to Environment Canada's air quality health index. (Trevor Howlett/CBC - image credit)

Environment Canada issued special air quality statements for much of Alberta Sunday, as smoke from wildfires in B.C. drifts eastward.

There are 191 active wildfires in B.C., including several of note that are burning relatively close to the interprovincial border, according to the province's wildfire dashboard.

The federal weather agency says in its air quality statements that smoke from those fires is causing poor air quality and, at times, reduced visibility.

The affected areas include:

  • Airdrie - Cochrane - Olds - Sundre

  • Bonnyville - St. Paul - Cold Lake - Lac La Biche

  • Brooks - Strathmore - Vulcan

  • City of Calgary

  • City of Edmonton - St. Albert - Sherwood Park

  • Drayton Valley - Devon - Rimbey - Pigeon Lake

  • Drumheller - Three Hills

  • Fort McMurray - Fort MacKay

  • Fort Saskatchewan - Vegreville - Redwater - Smoky Lake

  • Grande Prairie - Beaverlodge - Valleyview

  • Hanna - Coronation - Oyen

  • Leduc - Camrose - Wetaskiwin - Tofield

  • Lloydminster - Wainwright - Vermilion - Provost

  • Okotoks - High River - Claresholm

  • Peace River - Fairview - High Prairie - Manning

  • Red Deer - Ponoka - Innisfail - Stettler

  • Rocky Mountain House - Caroline

  • Slave Lake

  • Wabasca - Peerless Lake - Gift Lake - Cadotte Lake

  • Westlock - Barrhead - Athabasca

Wildfire smoke has cleared from parts of western and central Alberta Sunday morning, the statements say, but smoke may return throughout the next 24 hours.

The Jasper National Park area is also under a special air quality statement, but that pertains to the large wildfire burning on Chetamon Mountain, just north of Jasper, Alta., a municipality about 315 kilometres west of Edmonton.

Currently, the air quality in most areas in Alberta is considered low risk, according to Environment Canada's air quality health index. But the Edmonton area — the city of Edmonton and several satellite communities and counties — are at moderate or high risk.

The index forecasts the air quality in Alberta to worsen throughout the day, then to moderate slightly Sunday night.

People in areas with wildfire smoke may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath.

Children, seniors and people with heart or lung disease are particularly at risk.

Albertans who are exposed to wildfire smoke should consider taking precautions to limit their exposure, as the smoke can harm one's health, Environment Canada says.