The B.C. wildfires have caused poor air quality conditions in the Foothills region, reaching risky levels for people with pre-existing lung problems.

Doctor Jason Sabaj with Alberta Health Services says, our current air quality index rating according to Environment Canada, is the worst we've seen, so far this year.

"Now the air quality health index is reaching the high, or very high rating levels, today (August 15), and may fluctuate into the moderate levels moving further into the week, but forecasts can change."

hazy air aug15 2018 002The Air Quality readout for the Calgary region on August 15 2018.

Sabaj says the pollution in the air can affect an entire range of people.

"We certainly do know that specific people are especially vulnerable to impacts of air pollution, and people with lung conditions and cardiovascular problems are at risk, primarily those with COPD and Asthma, and also people at the extreme ends of age, such as younger children and seniors."

Sabaj says wildfires may cause specific pollutants, that can irritate the lungs of people with pre-existing problems.

"We keep track of several types of referent air pollution and one thing with wildfires, is small particulate matter can get deep into the lungs and cause inflammation, and that's one of the main mechanisms that people with health problems experience when air quality is bad. Other types of air pollution tend to have more impact on cardiovascular disease, although forest fires in particular, cause issues with peoples respiratory systems."

Sabaj says if you are someone in one of these risk categories, he recommends limiting your exposure to the outside air.

"Try to find an air-conditioned, filtered environment in the next few days. Be sure to keep windows and doors closed when possible, and re-schedule lengthy excursions outside, especially if they are physically demanding. The air quality will likely change and fluctuate this week, so be sure to check back with Environment Canada Air quality warnings and statements."


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