Yellowknifers, especially those in high-risk groups, should take precautions against the poor air quality caused by wildfire smoke on Friday, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

On Thursday, ECCC, jointly with the NWT’s departments of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) and Health and Social Services (HSS), issued an air quality warning for the Yellowknife region due to smoke from nearby wildfires.

“Air quality and visibility due to wildfire smoke can fluctuate over short distances and can vary considerably from hour to hour,” the warning reads.

Yellowknife’s air quality is forecasted to be of high risk into Friday, abating somewhat that evening.

ECCC uses a graded air quality health index, with more than 10 representing a “very high risk” while one represents a “low risk” On Thursday morning, Yellowknife’s air quality was forecasted to reach eight on that scale on Thursday and Thursday night, dropping down only to seven by Friday, with both of those numbers representing a “high risk.”

However, that didn’t come to fruition because as of noon Thursday, Yellowknife’s air quality was observed to be at “low risk.”

Those most at risk from smoke inhalation include children, seniors, and those with pre-existing cardiovascular or respiratory conditions. Anyone who develops symptoms of smoke inhalation, including coughing, a sore throat, or shortness of breath, is advised to stay inside or reduce strenuous physical activity.

This most recent air quality warning is part of an unusually busy wildfire season for the NWT, driven largely by unseasonably warm summer weather.

ECCC issues regular air quality updates on its website.

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