Health Information for Air Quality Events

During an air quality event, all individuals living in or travelling within the affected area are advised to be aware of potential health concerns that can be associated with poor air quality conditions.

Exposed individuals who are otherwise healthy may have the following symptoms when exposed to wildfire smoke:

  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • Increased mucus production in the nose or throat
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, especially during exercise
  • Headache

Individuals are advised to take the following precautions to reduce exposure and risk:

  • Close and lock all outside windows and doors, including attached garage doors.
  • Turn down furnace thermostats and furnace fans to the minimum setting. Do not attempt to extinguish pilot light.
  • If you have an air-conditioner, keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.
  • Avoid running fans, such as “whole-house fans” or “fresh air ventilation systems”, that bring more smoky outdoor air inside.
  • Switch all floor registers to closed position.
  • Close fireplace dampers on wood burning fireplaces.
  • Do not use wood burning fireplace, wood stoves or other smoke-producing appliances or features, including candles.
  • If you must drive to another location, keep windows and vents closed. Run car fans on re-circulate mode to avoid drawing in outdoor air. Vehicles should not be used as a means for shelter.
  • Reduce levels of physical activity, as necessary, to decrease the inhalation of airborne pollutants.
  • Do not smoke tobacco – smoking puts added stress on your lungs and those around you.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep the nose and mouth moist
  • Residents are reminded not to use backyard fire pits or fire boxes in parks when the air quality is poor.
  • Children and elderly are also at higher risk of health impacts from air pollution
  • Individuals experiencing symptoms can also call Health Link at 811 to speak to a registered nurse. Health Link is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll free.
  • If you think you are having a heart attack or stroke or otherwise in need of immediate medical attention, dial 9-1-1

Individuals with respiratory conditions (such as COPD and asthma), and individuals with existing cardiovascular conditions (such as angina, previous heart attack and congestive heart failure), may notice a worsening of symptoms, due to the poor air quality conditions. These individuals should monitor for worsening of symptoms and take the precautions recommended by their physicians if a worsening of symptoms occurs.
Children and elderly are also at higher risk of health impacts from air pollution.

Individuals experiencing symptoms can also call Health Link at 811 to speak to a registered nurse.

Current Air Quality Advisories

In Alberta, notifications for air quality events which result in poor air quality are issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada or by Alberta Health Services.

Special Air Quality Statements issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada are available through:

Active Alberta Health Services Air Quality Advisories: