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Alberta wildfires: Smoke triggers special air quality statement for much of province

With dozens of wildfires burning across Alberta, Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement for much of the province Tuesday morning as more smoke began to drift into communities, even some far away from the blazes.

“Smoke is causing or expected to cause poor air quality and reduced visibility,” the weather agency said in the alert issued shortly after 7:30 a.m. “Air quality conditions are expected to improve on Wednesday.

“Wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health even at low concentrations.”

Wildfire smoke drifts through Edmonton’s river valley on May 16, 2023.

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Edmonton and Calgary were included in the air quality statement, which mostly affects people in central and northern Alberta.

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Environment Canada warned that people with lung or heart diseases, pregnant women, older adults, children and people who work outdoors were at “higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke.”

“Mild irritation and discomfort are common, and usually disappear when the smoke clears,” the weather agency said. “Drinking lots of water can help your body cope with the smoke.

“If you have an HVAC system in your home, use the highest rated MERV filter for your system — ideally rated 13 or higher — and set the fan to recirculate air constantly. You can also use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air cleaner. Keep your doors and windows closed if the temperature in your home is comfortable.”

For more information, click here.

For a complete list of areas in Alberta under a weather alert, click here.

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