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Edmonton to see smoky skies, poor air quality into Monday night

Edmontonians saw a slight improvement in the smoky skies Sunday.

The air quality index in the city had dropped from a 10 – very high risk – to a high-risk 9 by Sunday afternoon.

According to Environment Canada, wildfire smoke is harmful even at low concentrations, and residents in affected areas were told to reduce or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities and watch for symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation. 

Older people and young children are at greater risk from side effects of the smoke, as well as people with lung or heart conditions. Those with increased risk should avoid any outdoor physical exertion while levels are high.

The City of Edmonton activated its extreme weather response for poor air quality Sunday. City facilities, like recreation centres and libraries, will be open for anyone needing a break from the smoke.

Social agency partners will also be handing out N95 masks to community members in need of protection.

Heather Rombough, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the particulate matter in wildfire smoke is what’s most harmful, so respirator masks can offer protection for those spending time outdoors.

While there were 43 wildfires burning in Alberta as of Sunday afternoon, Rombough said fire activity in northeastern British Columbia is responsible for the current smoky conditions.

In Edmonton, the air quality is expected to remain between a high and very-high risk until Monday night.

“Because the flow is coming right out of those fires around the Fort Nelson area, it’s probably going to continue to affect a good chunk of northern Alberta through until at least maybe early to midweek,” she added. 

You can find more information on air quality and health risks on the Environment Canada website

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