Calgary

Kananaskis, Canmore have worst air quality in Canada after wildfires

Wildfire smoke has given two southern Alberta spots — Kananaskis and Canmore — the worst air quality in Canada on Monday.

It's worse than in the B.C. interior where fires have been ablaze for weeks

A wildfire along Highway 1, east of Dead Man's Flats, began Friday evening. The air quality index in surrounding areas is now the worst in Canada as of Monday. (Submitted by Betty Moore)

Wildfire smoke has given two southern Alberta spots — Kananaskis and Canmore — the worst air quality in Canada on Monday.

According to IQAir, a Swiss company that ranks places by air quality index (AQI) and air pollution (PM2.5), the air at these locations is considered hazardous.

As of mid-day Monday, Kananaskis, which the site labels as "Wildrose," has an AQI of 352 and PM2.5 that is 30 times above the World Health Organization's exposure recommendation.

The Town of Canmore, just east of Banff, is only a few points lower, with an AQI of 350 and a PM2.5 that is 29 times above the WHO's exposure recommendation.

A good AQI is in the 0 to 50 range.

These locations are near a wildfire that began late Friday afternoon along Highway 1, east of Dead Man's Flats and west of Calgary.

The fire had burned six hectares as of Saturday evening, when it was brought under control.

Aaron Salus took this shot of a water bomber working to put out a fire along Highway 1 east of Dead Man's Flats, Alta. (Submitted by Aaron Salus)

Smoke is also coming from wildfires to the west, in the British Columbia Interior.

Some of the largest and most dangerous fires are burning in the Kamloops region, where most of the new evacuation orders have been issued.

Despite the fires causing air quality issues in B.C., the air index there was still lower than in Kananaskis and Canmore as of midday Monday — with Lumby, B.C., third on the list with an AQI of 314. Lumby is around 100 kilometres from the White Rock Lake fire, which has been classified as out of control for weeks.

Calgary has felt the impacts of the smoke for days now, and according to Environment Canada, it is ranked as high risk on the Air Quality Health Index.

As of midday, visibility had also dropped below 2.5 kilometres in the area.

WATCH | Thick smoke blankets Calgary

B.C. fires cover Calgary in smoke

5 months ago
Duration 0:44
Air quality and visibility plummeted as smoke and ash crossed the mountains and settled in southern Alberta. 0:44

It's expected to stay this way until Tuesday, when the risk is projected to drop to low.

Rain is also in the forecast, with an expected 15 to 25 millimetres Monday evening and 10 more by Tuesday afternoon.

So far, Calgary has had 415 hours of smoke this summer — nearing the 2018 record of 450 hours.

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