Health warning issued for Edmonton area as smoke drifts in from northern Alta. wildfires
Published Friday, July 13, 2012 6:48AM MDT Last Updated Saturday, July 14, 2012 2:17PM MDT
A health advisory was issued for the Edmonton area on Friday as smoke from wildfires in northwest Alberta made its way into the city as well as to other areas of the province.
Edmonton's air quality health index reached 9 (considered high risk) on Friday due to the smoky haze, odours and changes in visibility. The air quality health index rating was forecast to get back down to 5 later Friday.
Air quality at the high level means Edmonontians should be cautious about spending time outdoors, as the air could cause coughing, eye and throat irritation and possibly shortness of breath.
"Precautions that each and every one of us should take are monitoring our own symptons, if we're getting coughing, if we're getting itchy throats, irritated eyes, we should get out of the outdoor environment," said Dr. Chris Sikora, medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services.
Health officials say regardless of age or other health issues, everyone should consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors.
It is more dangerous for the high-risk population such as seniors, young children or people with respiratory problems.
"if you smell smoke, taste smoke, if you see smoke, you should reduce your activity to help decrease the strain you put on your heart and lungs," Sikora said.
An air quality advisory issued for northern Alberta from earlier in the week remains in effect.
Friday was the first time this year that the air quality rating in Edmonton was this poor.
There are currently 26 wildfires burning in the Upper Hay region of the province including twelve that are burning out of control.
The largest fire has burned 155,000 hectares and forced an evacuation of residents in the hamlet of Zama City and area work camps earlier this week. About 300 people have been evacuated in the area, including 134 from the hamlet and 164 from the First Nation.
Mackenzie County has issued a local state of emergency for the Wilson Prairie area and Zama City.
Anyone with health concerns are asked to call Alberta Health Link at 1-866-408-5465.
Click here to check the Air Quality Health Index.
Zama City is located about 930 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.