On Saturday, the city was enveloped by a dense cloud of smoke resulting from rampant wildfires, causing a severe impact on air quality and visibility within the region. The air quality index, an indicator of air pollution levels, dramatically escalated from a low-risk level of 3 at 7 in the morning to a precarious 10+ (indicating very high risk) by 11 a.m.
In response to these hazardous conditions, a specialized air advisory was released for the residents of Edmonton, entailing recommendations to either cancel or reschedule any planned strenuous outdoor activities.
With the prevalence of poor air quality, the city’s response mechanism was triggered into action on Thursday. It is poised to remain operational until Sunday, mitigating as much impact as feasible. Public facilities including swimming pools and libraries are being made available to residents seeking respite from the pervasive smoke. N95 masks, recognized for their superior filtration capabilities, are being distributed by various social agencies to those requiring additional protection.
The detrimental health effects of wildfire smoke, even at lower concentrations, have been affirmed by Environment Canada. Certain demographics including people with heart or lung conditions, pregnant individuals, the elderly, and children, are at an exceptionally heightened risk of experiencing health complications due to the smoke.
The quality of air is projected to sustain its poor levels throughout the day on Saturday, exhibiting a minor decline to a high-risk level of 8 by the evening hours. However, there seems to be a glimmer of positive news amidst the crisis. As per Environment Canada’s forecast, the smoke is anticipated to start dissipating on Sunday, leading to a substantial improvement in air quality, with the index dropping to a moderate-risk level of 4.