Health Advisory: Air quality advisory in effect for northern Alberta

The following information is courtesy Alberta Health and Wellness:

May 16, 2011

WESTLOCK – Due to air quality deterioration caused by fires burning in northern Alberta, Alberta Health Services is advising northern residents to take precautions against potential health risks associated with current air conditions. With the rapidly changing wind patterns, the amount of smoke present in a local area can change quickly. Fires are affecting air quality in the Wood Buffalo area, along with locales in the west and central portions of northern Alberta.

Smoke and fine particulate matter in the air can be absorbed deep into an individual’s lungs, causing health problems, particularly for individuals with respiratory conditions, such as COPD and asthma, and for individuals with chronic cardiac illness such as congestive heart failure or angina.

Although the quality of air at present is not generally a health hazard for those in good health, air quality conditions can change rapidly. People with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or angina should monitor their reactions and take any preventative measures their physicians have previously recommended.

“People with respiratory conditions are advised to remain indoors, keep their windows closed and limit outdoor physical activity,” said Dr. Albert de Villiers, Medical Officer of Health, Alberta Health Services. “People who experience difficulty breathing should consult their physicians.”

Residents can contact Health Link Alberta to speak to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).

Please note that this advisory is in effect until further notice.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.7 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

Information about the air quality in the northern Alberta is updated hourly on the Alberta Environment Air Quality Website at:

http://www.envinfo.gov.ab.ca/airquality/