Update: As of 12:33 p.m. the communities of Hay River, Fort Simpson, and the Fort Providence are no longer under a poor air quality alert from Environment Canada.

Environment Canada has announced that smoke from wildfires in northern Alberta is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility which continues to affect some areas in the southern NWT.

Air quality remains poor over Hay River, Fort Simpson, and the Fort Providence areas. Winds are expected to continue to shift to a more northerly direction this afternoon and move the smoke away from the area.

Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath according to Environment Canada.

“Children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk. If you, or someone in your care, develop symptoms, reduce strenuous outdoors activities where ever possible until the air quality improves.”

They add that if breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable when outdoors, stop or reduce strenuous physical activities.

“If you experience irritation of eyes, nose or throat, shortness of breath or other respiratory symptoms, you should take action to reduce your exposure to smoke. If you are feeling unwell and experiencing symptoms, contact your health care provider for advice.”

Additionally, in Hay River, the town has issued a partial fire ban. From 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21st, all fires other than those in approved backyard fire pits are banned and all previously issued permits are cancelled for the duration of the ban.