Cranbrook’s air quality is listed as a moderate health risk as of Monday, August 2nd. Moderate is a six on the one to 10+ scale, according to the B.C. Air Quality health index (AQHI).
On July 23, 2021, Cranbrook’s AQHI was listed at 10+, meaning the health risk was very high. It has since gone down some, but the risk is still there.
When the AQHI is at a moderate risk, the index says that those who are at risk should consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you are experiencing symptoms. The general population does not need to modify usual outdoor activity, unless symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation occur.
According to the website IQAir, Cranbrook’s rating is at 166, or ‘unhealthy’, as of Monday. It is forecasted to remain the same until at least Wednesday, August 4.
A smoky skies bulletin remains in effect for the East Kootenay region due to wildfire smoke.
Environment Canada says that people may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath because of the poor air quality. Children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease (such as asthma) are especially at risk.
Environment Canada warns that heat, combined with the wildfire smoke, can also result in illness.
“Wildfire smoke is a constantly changing mixture of particles and gases which includes many chemicals that can harm your health,” explained Environment Canada.
Canada Health Services recommends that everyone follow the AQHI to monitor air quality. If the index is high, it is recommended to limit outdoor activity, especially strenuous physical activity.
“If you need to work outdoors, check with your provincial or territorial occupational health and safety organization or your local health authority,” reads an information bulletin from Canada Health Services. “They can provide guidance on how to work safely outdoors during wildfire smoke events.”
At home, it is recommended to keep windows and doors closed as long as the temperature is comfortable. Using the recirculation settings on your HVAC system can also prevent smoke from entering your home.
Canada Health Services also says it’s important to drink plenty of water during heat and smoke events, and to frequently check on others who may be more vulnerable.
The AQHI for Cranbrook can be seen online at https://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/bcairquality/data/aqhi.html?id=AQHI-Cranbrook.
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