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Special air quality statement issued

A special air quality statement was issued for Airdrie and parts of Rocky View County May 31, as a heavy blanket of smoke from the wildfires in northern Alberta enveloped the area. Photo by Allison Chorney/Rocky View Publishing

Environment Canada, Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services issued a special air quality statement May 31, as a heavy blanket of smoke enveloped the Calgary area.

“Smoke from wildfires in northern Alberta is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility over much of the province this morning,” the statement read.

Effected areas include Airdrie, Crossfield, Bottrel, Madden and Cochrane.

A number of out-of-control wildfires has led to mandatory evacuation orders in High Level, Mackenzie County, Dene Tha’ First Nation communities, Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement Keg River, Sandy Lake, Wabasca, the Hamlet of Marten Beach and Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park. Residents in the Tow of Slave Lake remain on an eight-hour evacuation alert.

The Chuckegg Creek wildfire remains the largest currently burning and has grown to more than 230,000 hectares according to a release from the Alberta Government.

“For central and southern regions, the thickest smoke is expected to move north-westwards today as the flow continues to shift to south-easterly. However, conditions may remain hazy into the weekend,” the statement read.

Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk, according to the release.

“People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution,” the statement read. “They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels. Pollution can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, doctor and emergency room visits and hospital visits.”

The government recommends staying inside in a cool and well-ventilated place if you have breathing difficulties. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help, according to the release, as will leaving your window shut.

“If your home isn't air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned,” the statement read.

For more information, Alberta Health Services at

Additional information on reducing health risks and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as current and forecasted air quality information, can be accessed at
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