Smoke from a wildfire near Hudson Bay, Sask., prompted a special air quality statement from Environment Canada for most of central Alberta on Tuesday.
Environment Canada said the fire is causing elevated levels of fine particulate matter in parts of the province and advised people living in the forecasted areas to take precautions.
Poor air quality and reduced visibility were expected through Tuesday night in some areas.
As of 7 p.m. MT, the following areas were affected:
- Bonnyville – St. Paul – Cold Lake – Lac La Biche.
- City of Edmonton – St. Albert – Sherwood Park.
- Drayton Valley – Devon – Rimbey – Pigeon Lake.
- Fort Saskatchewan – Vegreville – Redwater – Smoky Lake.
- Hanna – Coronation – Oyen.
- Leduc – Camrose – Wetaskiwin – Tofield.
- Lloydminster – Wainwright – Vermilion – Provost.
- Red Deer – Ponoka – Innisfail – Stettler.
- Spruce Grove – Morinville – Mayerthorpe – Evansburg.
- Westlock – Barrhead – Athabasca.
The smoke may cause symptoms such as coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, and seniors, as well as those with cardiovascular or lung disease, are considered especially at risk.
“People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution,” read a statement from Environment Canada. “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.”
As of 6 p.m., the air quality in Edmonton was 7 on the Air Quality Health Index, which is considered high risk. That was expected to drop to 4 by Wednesday morning and 3 by Wednesday evening.
An up-to-date list of weather warnings can be found on Environment Canada’s website.