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Wildfire smoke poses health risks in Fort Macleod and district

Smoke from wildfires is causing poor air quality and reduced visibility in fort Macleod and other parts of southern Alberta.

Smoke from the 87 wildfires in Alberta raised the air quality index to 10, or high risk, on Tuesday afternoon.

Air quality conditions are expected to improve on Wednesday, May 17.

In a special air quality statement, Environment Canada, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services warned that wildfire smoke can be harmful  even at low concentrations.

People with lung disease such as asthma or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant people and people who work outdoors are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke.

Stop or reduce your activity level if breathing becomes uncomfortable or you or someone in your care feel unwell. Contact your health care provider or local health authority if you develop severe symptoms or need advice.

Check the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) and monitor your symptoms. People respond differently to smoke. Mild irritation and discomfort are common, and usually disappear when the smoke clears. 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.

If you must spend time outdoors, a well-fitted respirator type mask such as a NIOSH certified N95 or equivalent respirator that does not allow air to pass through small openings between the mask and face, can help reduce your exposure to the fine particles in smoke.

These fine particles generally pose the greatest risk to health.

However, respirators do not reduce exposure to the gases in wildfire smoke. It is important to listen to your body and reduce or stop activities if you are experiencing symptoms.

Be sure to check on people in your care and those around you who may be more susceptible to smoke.

Reduce sources of indoor air pollution. If you can, avoid smoking or vaping indoors, burning incense and candles, frying foods, using wood stoves and vacuuming.

Dust on indoor surfaces can be removed by wiping and wet mopping during a pollution episode.

If you experience any feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, contact your mental health care provider for advice or visit

For more information please visit Alberta Health Services at

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