Smog still affecting Red Deer air quality

Smog continues to diminish air quality in Red Deer.

Smog continues to diminish air quality in Red Deer.

On Monday morning, the city scored a five out of 10 on air particle and ozone levels. At that level, people sensitive to smog should consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous outdoor activities if they experience symptoms.

At-risk populations include people with diabetes, lung or heart disease, seniors and children.

By early afternoon, Alberta Environment’s Air Quality Health Index for Red Deer dropped to four and was forecast to remain at that level Monday night and today.

Levels of seven to 10 on the Air Quality Health Index are considered a high health risk, especially for people suffering from allergies and respiratory ailments. Levels of four to six are considered a moderate health risk with no need for the general population to modify outdoor activity unless they experience symptoms like coughing or throat irritation.

The smog is due to inversion layers, which develop overnight when a layer of cold air becomes trapped under a layer of warm air.

With no wind to carry them off, fumes and fine particles hang close to the ground, dissipating later in the day as the surface warms and the two layers begin to mix.

Heavy, brown haze was noticeable in Red Deer area last week and air quality hovered around six.

Johnson Zhong, a spokesperson with Environment Canada, said that by Wednesday, winds could increase to about 30 km/h with more weather changes forecast for Thursday to alleviate the smog.

“There’s an arctic front on Thursday that will move over Central Alberta. It should clear it up,” Zhong said on Monday.

Afternoon breezes on Monday were expected to die down in the evening so haze would likely return today, he said.

Only Edmonton was reporting worse air quality than Red Deer due to the inversion layers. That city was at six out of 10 on the index early Monday, dropping to five in the afternoon. Air quality was expected to remain at five on the index today.

The smog appears to be channeling along river valleys.

Air quality conditions are posted on Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development’s web page, including a chart showing the levels at which people should take precautions.

Visit online at environment.alberta.ca or call 1-877-247-7333 for an automated update on current conditions.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com