Alberta Experiences Unprecedented Smoke Hours, Impacting Mental and Physical Health

Alberta Experiences Unprecedented Smoke Hours, Impacting Mental and Physical Health

Alberta’s capital city has been engulfed in smoke for over 300 hours this year, nearly three times the previous average. The continuous presence of haze and health warnings due to ongoing wildfires are taking a toll on the physical and mental well-being of residents.

Psychologist Sabrina Roach explains that many individuals have been deprived of the summer experience they desired. Those with health conditions that limit their exposure to smoky environments or parents concerned about their children’s health are particularly affected. Roach also notes that the wildfires have heightened environmental concerns, leading to a phenomenon known as eco-anxiety.

Edmonton, in particular, has surpassed its previous record of 229 smoke hours from 2018. A “smoke hour” is defined as visibility reduced to 9.7 kilometers or less due to smoke. Data from Environment and Climate Change Canada is collected continuously, offering insights on the significant increase in smoke throughout recent years. Meteorologist Josh Classen reports that the average number of smoke hours per summer is now around 110, compared to the previous average of 17 hours per year.

Other communities, such as Peace River, Grande Prairie, Cold Lake, and Calgary, have also experienced a similar surge in smoke hours. These conditions have led residents to alter their daily routines and even cancel plans due to health concerns. Increased coughing and respiratory issues are commonly reported during smoky days.

Minister of Forests and Parks, Todd Loewen, acknowledges that little can be done about the smoke once a wildfire has started. Prevention efforts play a crucial role in reducing the frequency and severity of forest fires, making it essential for individuals to exercise caution when in forested areas to ensure safety and reduce the risk of wildfires. As fires continue to burn in neighboring regions such as British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, the presence of smoke in Alberta is expected to persist, depending on wind patterns.

Overall, the prolonged exposure to smoke in Alberta is not only affecting air quality but also impacting the mental and physical health of residents. It is imperative to continue preventive measures and prioritize the well-being of individuals during periods of heightened wildfire activity.

– CTV News Edmonton
– Environment and Climate Change Canada

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