The Estevan area is covered by dense smoke Wednesday morning, with a cold front moving southwards through southern Saskatchewan.
Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement Tuesday evening. The agency says "(Air Quality Health Index) values of 10+ or very high risk are occurring" thanks to "extreme PM 2 concentrations."
The period of very high risk is expected to last six to eight hours "at any one location with the frontal passage."
Both air quality and visibility within the wildfire smoke can fluctuate considerably within a short range, and can change significantly from hour to hour.
Here is the warning updated at 9:27 p.m. Tuesday:
"Extreme PM 2.5 concentrations and associated AQHI values of 10+ or very high risk are occurring.
A cold front moving southwards through southern Saskatchewan is concentrating forest fire smoke from wildfires. As this front progresses southwards tonight and into Wednesday, it will drag a narrow band of thicker smoke through most regions of central and southern Saskatchewan. Extreme PM 2.5 concentrations and associated AQHI values will result in a very high risk for a period of about 6 to 8 hours at any one location with the frontal passage.
Air quality and visibility due to wildfire smoke can fluctuate over short distances and can vary considerably from hour to hour. Wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health even at low concentrations. Everyone can take action to reduce their exposure to wildfire smoke.
People with lung disease (such as asthma) or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, and people who work outdoors are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke. Speak with your health care provider about developing a management plan for wildfire smoke events and maintaining a supply of necessary medications at home and always carrying these medications with you during wildfire season.
Stop or reduce your activity level if breathing becomes uncomfortable or you or someone in your care feel unwell. Contact your health care provider or local health authority if you develop severe symptoms or need advice.
Check the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) and monitor your symptoms. People respond differently to smoke. Mild irritation and discomfort are common, and usually disappear when the smoke clears. Drinking lots of water can help your body cope with the smoke.
Take a break from the smoke at a location in your community where you can find clean, cool air.
If you must spend time outdoors, a well-fitted respirator type mask (such as a NIOSH certified N95 or equivalent respirator) that does not allow air to pass through small openings between the mask and face, can help reduce your exposure to the fine particles in smoke. These fine particles generally pose the greatest risk to health. However, respirators do not reduce exposure to the gases in wildfire smoke. It is important to listen to your body and reduce or stop activities if you are experiencing symptoms.
Be sure to check on people in your care and those around you who may be more susceptible to smoke.
If you experience any feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, contact your mental health care provider for advice or visit https://www.wellnesstogether.ca/en-CA. Please call HealthLine 811 for advice on health risks, symptoms and precautions associated with air quality. Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.
Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada."