Continuing poor air quality in the Edmonton area due to wafting wildfire smoke has prompted the cancellation of several outdoor activities as a special air quality statement remains in effect.
The air quality in Edmonton was considered to be high risk Monday afternoon, forecast to hit nine out of 10 on Environment Canada’s health index. With the smoke expecting to slowly dissipate mid-week, the daytime health index is expected to drop Tuesday and peak at six during the day. The air quality statement was issued for most of the province on Thursday as a thick layer of wildfire smoke drifted in from British Columbia.
As a result of the high health risk of the current air quality, the City of Edmonton kept its outdoor pools closed for a third straight day. Future opening decisions will be made day-to-day. The fountain at city hall and the outdoor Green Shack program were also cancelled due to the poor air quality, city spokesman Christopher Webster said in an email to Postmedia.
“Day camps have been moved indoors and outdoor fitness programs have also moved indoors. We continue to monitor air quality in Edmonton and will look to reopen once conditions improve,” Webster said.
Individuals are encouraged to reduce or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities, Environment Canada said. Air pollution can affect one’s health in different ways, from minor symptoms like a scratchy throat, to more serious issues such as difficulty breathing or heart problems. Children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk and can be particularly sensitive to air pollution.
“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,” Environment Canada said in its special air quality statement.
Also in Edmonton, the YWCA’s outdoor camp programs were cancelled Monday due to the wildfire smoke and Snow Valley reduced its hours at both the aerial park and Whitemud Creek Mining Company, closing at 1 p.m.
Most City of Edmonton facilities are open to the public for a place of respite from the poor air quality as the extreme weather response remains in effect. It was initially activated for extreme heat, but remains in place during the Environment Canada air quality warning.