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Here's how many hours of smoke Edmonton's had this year

The Edmonton region has been covered in smoke for nearly 200 hours in 2023, data shows.

As of July 17, Edmonton had experienced 194 "smoke hours," according to Environment Canada.

The government agency defines smoke hours as time spent with a reduction in visibility below 9.7 kilometres.

Smoke hours in Edmonton in the past five years.

Its data dates back to 1961 and the record was set in 2018 with 229 hours.

The Edmonton area is closing in on that record due to historic wildfire seasons in Alberta and British Columbia.

"We're only in mid July and we're comparing back to years," said Terri Lang, a meteorologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada.

"That does tell you something about how many smoke hours we've had so far this year to mid July that we're comparing it to other years for a full summer's worth of smoke, so that does speak to how bad the forest fires have been this year and how much smoke is coming through throughout the prairies."


The increase in smoke hours has been particularly bad for people with asthma, a doctor and a pharmacist told CTV News Edmonton.

Smoke can irritate airways, constrict lungs and cause spasms, said Dr. Paige Lacy, a University of Alberta professor.

"And then the person is coughing and cannot breathe properly. They are literally kept awake at night…and they can't seem to stop this constant cycle of coughing.

"It's just very dangerous air to breathe."

As a result, more people are seeking rescuer puffers, which opens up airways and helps breathe for the moment, pharmacist Sheila Wilson said.

"They use it a lot more than usual.

"When patients are requiring or relying on rescuer puffers, often that means that their lung capacity has been reduced, even as much as 40 per cent or more, and that is concerning because that could cause an admission to emergency or an asthma attack. It is very, very important that we take these signs serious."

When the air quality climbs to a high risk, Environment Canada recommends reducing outdoor activities and exercise. Dr. Lacy also suggests staying indoors, closing windows, turning fans on and getting air filters replaced.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Alison MacKinnon Top Stories

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