The air quality is expected to take a nosedive over the Red Deer area by Thursday as more wildfire smoke pours into the region.
The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), with a scale of 1 to 10+, is expected to double today and reach the highest reading of 10+.
On Wednesday morning, the index was at 2, but forecast to reach 5 during the day, and then 10+ Wednesday evening and continue at that level into Thursday.
Environment Canada updated its continuing special air quality statement at 10:38 a.m. Wednesday.
Forest fires in BC are generating huge amounts of smoke over Western Canada. This smoke will cross the Rockies through the day today.
Due to the smoke, the AQHI will likely reach above 10, or very high risk, in parts of Western and Central Alberta today. There is some uncertainty as to where the thickest smoke will set up, but current indications are that the corridor of thickest smoke and thus poorest air quality will be between Hinton, Red Deer, and Edmonton.
The smoke will remain over Western and Central Alberta until at least Thursday afternoon or evening, when thunderstorms may flush out some of the smoke.
The statement covers the following areas:
Camrose Co. near Bashaw and Meeting Creek
City of Red Deer
Co. of Paintearth near Halkirk and Big Knife Prov. Park
Co. of Stettler near Big Valley
Co. of Stettler near Botha and Gadsby
Co. of Stettler near Byemoor and Endiang
Co. of Stettler near Donalda
Co. of Stettler near Stettler Nevis and Rochon Sands
Flagstaff Co. near Forestburg and Galahad
Lacombe Co. near Clive Alix and Mirror
Lacombe Co. near Eckville
Lacombe Co. near Lacombe Blackfalds and Bentley
Ponoka Co. near Ponoka and Maskwacis
Red Deer Co. near Elnora Lousana and Delburne
Red Deer Co. near Penhold Innisfail and Bowden
Red Deer Co. near Pine Lake
Red Deer Co. near Spruce View and Red Lodge Prov. Park
Red Deer Co. near Sylvan Lake and Stephansson House
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.
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.