Wildfire smoke triggers Environment Canada air quality warnings across southern Alberta

·1 min read
Wildfire smoke coming from B.C. and the U.S. has been making the skies hazy in Calgary and the rest of southern Alberta. (Dominika Lirette/CBC - image credit)
Wildfire smoke coming from B.C. and the U.S. has been making the skies hazy in Calgary and the rest of southern Alberta. (Dominika Lirette/CBC - image credit)

Much of southern Alberta is experiencing poor air quality caused by wildfire smoke drifting over the province from British Columbia and the northwestern United States, Environment Canada says.

The agency has issued special air quality statements for Calgary along with the rest of southern Alberta and areas in the Foothills and the Rocky Mountains.

"Levels of fine particulate matter are expected to increase through the day," said Environment Canada's alert for Calgary on Tuesday.

"Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gases which includes many chemicals that can harm your health."

The smoky air can cause coughing, throat irritation headaches and shortness of breath.

People with lung conditions such as asthma and COPD can be especially vulnerable to the poor air quality, said Nina Snyder with the Alberta Lung Association.

"One in five Canadians suffer from some form of lung disease, so anything externally, like wildfire smoke, even firepit smoke, can exacerbate their lung issues and trigger, in the case of asthma, it can trigger asthma attacks. In the case of COPD, it can trigger COPD attacks, worsening symptoms," she said.

For information on how to reduce health risks and to find current and forecast air quality health index (AQHI) values, visit www.airhealth.ca.

The risk is forecast to be "7-high risk" on Tuesday evening in Calgary.