Air quality concerns reach Alberta as smoke blows east

By Geoff Smith (@smithco on Twitter)
July 17, 2017 - 5:35am

LETHBRIDGE -- Southern Alberta had escaped the smoke of the intense wildfires in British Columbia. Until now.

Dual advisories were issued late in the day Sunday, July 16, covering all of southern Alberta including Lethbridge. Environment Canada issued a Special Air Quality Statement, while Alberta Health Services (AHS) released a Precautionary Air Quality Advisory for the South Zone.

AHS said air quality would vary for days and possibly even weeks, and its advisory would remain in effect until further notice

As of early Monday morning the Air Quality Health Index for Lethbridge was 5, or Moderate. It was expected to reach 7, in the High category, later in the day, before improving Monday night and settling down to Low on Tuesday.

The nature of the Environment Canada statement is short-term, prompted by smoke blowing in not only from the fires in the B.C. interior but a wildfire that burned near the B.C.-Alberta boundary in the area of Banff National Park. The weather service said the Air Quality Health Index would be elevated Monday morning, but slowly improve, moving from north to south. However, it may remain higher in the areas around the foothills.

AHS said air quality would vary for days and possibly even weeks, and its advisory would remain in effect until further notice, with precautions for residents as well as visitors to the area.

For healthy people, minor smoke would not be cause for concern. At more severe levels it could lead to eye and throat irritation and shortness of breath. If smoke is noticeable, people are advised to limit outdoor activity and stay inside, keeping windows and vents closed. Vehicle air conditioning systems should be switched to "recirculate."

Patients with respiratory or cardiovascular conditions may notice their symptoms getting worse. They should follow their doctors' advice.

Anyone needing advice can call 811 to speak to a registered nurse through Health Link.

Thunder, lightening and downpour cut short Saturday's Lethbridge Airshow performances

Join the Discussion

We are happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules: Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic, be responsible, share your knowledge, and please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. See full commenting rules.