Special air quality alert issued for Calgary as wildfire smoke blows into city

Pictured is Calgary's skyline viewed from Shaganappi Point on Monday, August 17, 2020.

As the sun was setting in Calgary on Monday evening, wildfire smoke hung in the air and clouded the sky.

Environment Canada released a

special air quality alert

for the City of Calgary around 7:30 p.m., stating that people near the city should be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and take necessary safety precautions.

“Smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility. Smoke is expected or occurring. A cold front is moving through southern Alberta bringing a brief period of reduced visibility in smoke,” said the alert.

On Monday evening, the

air quality health index

was listed as peaking at 4, posing a moderate risk. However, the index forecasts the quality could peak at 7 overnight, which would put the city in the high-risk category.

“Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk,” said the alert.

“Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gasses which includes many chemicals that can harm your health.”

The air quality health index predicts it could return to 3 or 4 again on Tuesday, reducing the risk.

“Air quality will be poor with the cold frontal passage and is expected to improve by the overnight period,” said the alert.

On Friday, Environment Canada expected the city’s air quality health index to peak at a level four but

anticipated conditions to get worse

because of the wildfires blazing in B.C. and California.

“Wildfire smoke in B.C. and California is on the move,” Environment Canada said on social media on Thursday.

“The air quality could worsen in the coming days in parts of (Alberta) as the weather pattern responsible for the transport of this smoke will continue into next week.”

Environment Canada is advising people who could be considered an at-risk population to consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if they are experiencing symptoms. But for the general population, there is still no need to modify usual outdoor activities unless a person experiences symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

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