Environment Canada has issued an Air Quality Statement for Airdrie, Rocky View County, and Cochrane due to smoke from Alberta’s northern wildfires blowing into the region.
According to Environment Canada, people with lung disease such as asthma or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, and people who work outdoors should take special precautions.
“(They) are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke,” the advisory reads. “Speak with your health care provider about developing a management plan for wildfire smoke events and maintaining a supply of necessary medications at home and always carrying these medications with you during wildfire season.”
Airdrie's sole air quality monitoring station, located near Chinook Winds Regional Park, was registering a reading of approximately 192 micrograms of PM 2.5 (a measurement for fine particulate matter that are two and one half microns or less in width, commonly used to measure air pollutants) per cubic metre at 7 a.m. this morning. An hour before that, the station recorded readings of just over 296 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic metre.
According to Oransi.com, readings of 150 to 250 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic metre are considered "very unhealthy," and cause a significant increase in respiratory aggravation among the general population.
Airdrie's poor air quality is expected to improve on Wednesday, but in the meantime Environment Canada advises that those at higher risk or experiencing more effects of exposure to smoke should stop or reduce activity levels if breathing becomes uncomfortable, or they or someone in their care should feel unwell.
Those experiencing more severe symptoms are also advised to contact their healthcare provider or local health authority if in need, or are seeking more advice on how to cope with the situation.
Those at risk who have good HVAC systems or HEPA filters are advised to remain at home and keep all doors and windows closed. Those who must go outside are advised to wear a well-fitted respirator type mask that does not allow air to pass through small openings between the mask and face. This can help reduce exposure to the fine particles in the smoke.
Environment Canada also advises residents to check up on vulnerable family members or neighbours who might be in distress.
If experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, contact a mental health care provider for advice or visit https://www.wellnesstogether.ca/en-CA and watch for further updates from Environment Canada or Alberta Health Services at www.albertahealthservices.ca/news/air.aspx.