Wildfire smoke grips Edmonton area until at least Tuesday: Air quality alert

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Choke-inducing wildfire smoke largely emanating from British Columbia has extended its grip on the Edmonton area until at least Tuesday, says an air quality alert issued jointly by Environment Canada and partners.

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The special air quality statement in effect for Edmonton, St. Albert and Sherwood Park was updated just before 11 a.m Sunday, warning of wildfire smoke causing poor air quality and reducing visibility at times. Lousy air quality due to the wildfire smoke hovered over most of the province all weekend.

“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,” said the updated warning issued by Environment Canada, Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services.

“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.”

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The air quality sat at 7 out of 10 around noon on Sunday but the safety hazard jumped to 10+ several times over the weekend, or high risk to those with some health conditions. That 10+ warning is forecast to stick around until at least Monday night.

Everyone, including those at risk, should postpone outdoor activities until the air quality improves, warns the alert.

An alert was first issued for the Edmonton area Thursday when smoke from wildfires in British Columbia, North Dakota and Montana pressed in to Alberta.

Outdoor City of Edmonton facilities like pools and the Green Shack program for kids were shuttered as a result.

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