Yellowknife air quality rating reaches ‘very high risk’

Haze generated by wildfire smoke from northern Alberta descends over Yellowknife on July 20, 2019
A file photo from 2019 of haze generated by wildfire smoke from northern Alberta descending over Yellowknife. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio

Yellowknife’s air quality deteriorated significantly on Wednesday afternoon as smoke from wildfires to the south and west arrived over the city.

Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a special air quality statement, a common practice when wildfire smoke reaches any community.

The city’s Air Quality Health Index rating reached 10+ shortly after noon, the very top end of the scale, indicating “very high risk” and the worst air quality measurement available in Canada.

“Scientists created the index by estimating the daily change in mortality risk for ten cities from 1998-2000 and plotting it on a 10-point scale,” the federal agency responsible for the index states, explaining how its scale of one to 10+ is derived.



“The higher the number, the greater the risk and the need to take precautions.”

Smoke over Yellowknife on Wednesday appears to have been blown east from wildfires burning in the Dehcho, though some smoke may also have been contributed by fires in northern Alberta.

The smoke is forecast to clear late on Wednesday evening and give way to smoke-free air overnight into Thursday.