Health Advisory: Fires continue to cause poor air quality in the North Zone

The following information is courtesy Alberta Health and Wellness:

May 25, 2011

GRANDE PRAIRIE and FORT MCMURRAY – Due to air quality deterioration caused by fires burning in multiple areas across northern Alberta, Alberta Health Services is continuing to advise residents to take precautions against potential health risks associated with current air conditions. With the rapidly changing weather patterns, the air quality in a local area can change often daily or hourly.

The fine particulate matter in smoke can be absorbed deep into an individual’s lungs where it can cause health problems. Those with chronic respiratory conditions, such as COPD and asthma, or chronic cardiac illness, like congestive heart failure or angina, can be more sensitive to the effects of smoke.

“People with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or angina should continue to monitor their symptoms and take any preventative measures their physicians have previously recommended,” advises Dr. Sikora, Medical Officer of Health, Alberta Health Services. “Those individuals who experience difficulty breathing, or chest discomfort, should consult their physicians.”

Dr. Sikora also recommends individuals with respiratory conditions remain indoors, keep their windows closed and limit strenuous physical activity.

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).

As fires continue to burn within the North zone, it is expected that air quality will be highly variable. This advisory continues to be 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 many areas of the North Zone is updated hourly on the Alberta Environment Air Quality Website at:

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