A submitted photo of a the wildfire smoke in Behchokǫ̀ overlooking the water on July 26, 2023.
The Northwest Territories’ chief environmental officer has issued a wildfire smoke advisory for all five regions in the territory.
In a public health advisory Monday morning, the territorial government stated elevated levels of fine particles in the air pose a health risk to residents in Dehcho, South Slave, North Slave, Sahtu and Beaufort Delta communities.
Smoke exposure can result in sore eyes, tears, cough and runny nose. Anyone experiencing serious symptoms including wheezing, chest discomfort or shortness of breath is advised to visit their local health centre.
The advisory states exposure to smoke is greatest for people who are active outdoors, such as outdoor workers. Those most at risk of severe health impacts include young children, elderly people, pregnant people, and people with diabetes, lung or heart conditions.
Air quality is being tracked by monitors in several communities across the territory.
On Monday morning, many monitors showed air quality conditions considered “unhealthy” for many people. A monitor in Fort Smith measured air quality index measurements above 300, considered “hazardous” with a health warning of “emergency conditions.”
The territorial government has said a nearby wildfire is not an immediate threat to Fort Smith. Residents of the Northern Lights special care home were moved to Hay River “out of an abundance of caution” over the weekend.
Across the NWT, 175 wildfires are actively burning. A total of 200 fires have burned more than 1.7 million hectares in the territory this year so far.
Fire bans are currently in place for the South Slave and North Slave regions.