Canada Wildfire smoke severity in Calgary peaks, then recedes

02:50  18 july  2017
02:50  18 july  2017 Source:   Calgary Herald

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  Smoke at Kamloops airport disrupting flights Smoke from wildfires caused delays and a handful of cancellations at Kamloops airport Monday afternoon. “There are a number that have circled,” the airport’s managing director, Fred Legace said. “One has gone back to Vancouver, a couple may have to go back to Calgary and then try again. “The valley is really charged with smoke.” […]

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071717-no_object-57926824-_ALC0950-W.jpg © Al Charest 071717-no_object-57926824-_ALC0950-W.jpg

Calgarians are beginning to breathe a little easier as acrid smoke from B.C. wildfires dissipates.

But health and wildfire experts are warning the health risk level of that smoke could increase again as blazes in B.C. forests continue to rage.

“The conditions seem to be such that we’ll be seeing more of this,” said Dr. Jason Cabaj, medical officer of health for the Calgary Zone.

Early Monday morning, Environment Canada’s air quality index in Calgary rated a  7, at the bottom of the high risk level.

By mid-afternoon it had fallen to a 5 in the moderate category and was expected to fall to the low hazard level of 3 on Tuesday.

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The heavier smoke, accompanied by small amounts of ash, blew into the Calgary area early Sunday evening, carried on a cold front’s gusty winds.

Cabaj said it’s likely patient loads at city hospitals and clinics increased due to the smoke, which most impacts those with cardiovascular and respiratory problems, the youngest and oldest.

“I’d expect there’ll be more calls to health link and emergency visits,” he said.

He said a study on the effects of wildfire smoke that severely blanketed Calgary in August, 2015 should bear results by year’s end and will likely show health impacts.

Fifty sensors set up by a city tech startup monitoring the level of particulates in the air shows the amount of fine debris earlier Monday in Calgary was at least 10 times the norm.

Wildfire blazing near Alberta's border forcing closures in Banff National Park

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The sensors picked up readings of 111, before they began falling back, said Coral Bliss Taylor of SensorUp.

“We normally see readings of zero to 10, so it’s not good, it’s the worst I’ve seen since last October,” said Taylor, referring to when the sensors were first set up in Calgary.

“We’ve been receiving lots of calls from the public today.”

But contrast, a typical day in smoggy Beijing rates about a 73, she said.

On Monday, city officials suspended their Park N Play program for the day, with hopes of resuming the children’s park activities sessions Tuesday.

University of Alberta wildfire expert Michael Flannigan said the smoke in the Calgary are was coming from fires in both B.C.’s Kootenay National Park and those deeper in the province’s interior.

“It’s a kind of smoke soup,” he said.

Alberta Health Service’s Cabaj said Calgarians should gauge the level of eye and throat irritation when deciding what kinds of outdoor activities to pursue.

“When people are noticing irritation or other symptoms, that’s when they need to be cautious,” he said.

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

Fire ban issued for high-risk Jasper National Park .
A fire ban has been issued for Jasper National Park due to elevated fire danger, parks officials said Tuesday. The ban covers the entire park including all front and backcountry campgrounds and day-use areas.The Municipality of Jasper has also issued a fire ban for the Jasper townsite.Under the ban, lighting or maintaining fires anywhere in the national park is now strictly prohibited, parks officials said in an information bulletin.

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