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Special air quality statement in Central Alberta

Smoke from forest fires near Banff National Park and B.C. wildfires are causing elevated values of Air Quality Health Index

Smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility in Central Alberta.

Affected areas include the City of Red Deer, Lacombe County, Eckville, Stetttler, Stettler and Red Deer County.

Smoke is expected or occurring.

Smoke from forest fires in the vicinity of Banff National Park and central British Columbia is causing elevated values of the Air Quality Health Index across part of southern Alberta this morning. Air Quality is expected to improve from north to south today however areas closer to the foothills may see elevated AQHI values persist.

Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.

In general, wearing a mask is not the best way to protect your health during a smoke event. In fact, masks may lead to a false sense of security, which may encourage increased physical activity and time spent outdoors, meaning increased exposure to smoke. They can also make breathing more difficult.

People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution. They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels. Pollution can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, doctor and emergency room visits, and hospital visits.

Stay inside if you have breathing difficulties. Find an indoor place that’s cool and ventilated. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help. If you open the windows you may let in more polluted air. If your home isn’t air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned.

Be air aware! Check your local weather forecasts and alerts so you know when to take extra care.

Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.

Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada.

Issued by Environment Canada, Alberta Environment and Parks and Alberta Health