While the haze outside may have eased Thursday morning, Alberta health officials warn that more smoke will come Edmonton’s way as the day goes on and air quality is expected to worsen.
The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) in Edmonton dropped overnight from seven to three, but it is expected to increase again, reaching five in the afternoon and then seven Friday. The AQHI scale runs from one to 10, with 10 considered a high health risk.
Mike Flannigan, a University of Alberta professor who studies Wildland Fire Science, says that as a result of the fires up north and west, Edmonton may continue to see smoke for the next few weeks.
"The fires will continue to burn in the North West Territories because it's been so hot, dry and windy up there," he said. "It's going to take a lot of rain so we may see smoke on and off for the next month."
On Wednesday, many Edmontonians reported seeing ash from the fires falling from the sky.
"The thing about ash is it's not the biggest problem for our health," said Flannigan. "It's the fine particles, the ones you can't see individually... Those really fine particles that get trapped in your lungs, those are the problem."
Flannigan said the smoke particles in the air will eventually settle with the help of gravity, but the most effective way of clearing the air is rain.
Health advisory issued for Edmonton
Alberta Health Services issued a precautionary health advisory regarding air quality in Edmonton on Wednesday.
While AHS says healthy people shouldn’t be affected by the smoke, those with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma or heart problems may notice worsening symptoms.
Those people are advised to take precautions routinely suggested by their doctors and limit all strenuous activities, indoors and out.