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Wildfire smoke monitoring in Alberta



Wildfire smoke is the most prevalent form of air pollution in the summer-time in Alberta, has known health effects, and is expected to become more severe in the future.

Current wildfire and air quality conditions

See Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard for more information on current fire locations.

March 2023 – Wildfire season in Alberta officially begins March 1 to October 31. 

May 2023 – A number of wildfires are occurring in Alberta. Smoke from wildfires may cause poor air quality and reduced visibility.

Air Quality Health Index real-time reporting

Air quality is monitored by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (EPA) and airsheds using continuous air monitoring stations in more than 30 communities across Alberta. Real-time data from these continuous stations are used to inform the public on current air quality conditions through the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI).

Additional monitoring to support emergency response

During wildfire smoke events, portable air quality monitors can be deployed by EPA in areas not covered by permanent air monitoring stations. These instruments measure and report one-hour concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), one of the major components of smoke with a risk to human health. Summaries of the data collected from these monitors are available during fire season.

Proactive wildfire smoke monitoring with PurpleAir sensors

The PurpleAir is an air quality sensor that continuously samples and reports on PM2.5 data. It is easy to transport and deploy, and is very low cost compared with traditional air quality monitors. PurpleAir data are collected by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas, other monitoring agencies, and members of the public, and are available in real-time on the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) AQMap.

Background information – wildfire smoke and air quality in Alberta

For more information, this wildfire fact sheet provides background information about wildfire smoke and its effect on air quality in Alberta. It addresses the following questions:

  • How do we inform the public about health risk associated with wildfire smoke?
  • How often does wildfire smoke affect air quality in Alberta? Does this change year-to-year?
  • How do we monitor and forecast wildfire smoke?
  • How has wildfire activity changed since 1990?

Wildfire Smoke Research

Tam, N., and Adams, C. 2019. Characterization of air quality during the 2016 Horse River Wildfire using permanent and portable monitoring. Government of Alberta, Ministry of Environment and Parks.

Briefing for policy practitioners: improving air quality monitoring for future wildfire smoke events. 2019. Government of Alberta, Ministry of Environment and Parks.

Adams et al. 2019. Satellite-derived emissions of carbon monoxide, ammonia, and nitrogen dioxide from the 2016 Horse River wildfire in the Fort McMurray area. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 19, 2577-2599.

Wentworth et al. 2018. Impacts of a large boreal wild fire on ground level atmospheric concentrations of PAHs, VOCs and ozone. Atmospheric Environment, 178, 19-30.

Landis et al. 2018. The impact of the 2016 Fort McMurray Horse River Wildfire on ambient air pollution levels in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region, Alberta, Canada. Science of the Total Environment, 618, 1665–1676.


Posted Date: Apr 19, 2021 Source:
Alberta Environment and Parks
Date Range: Apr 19, 2021 - Present Location:  

Usage Considerations


Current air quality conditions

Alberta's Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)

Wildfire smoke advisories

Alberta Health Services air quality advisories

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Special Air Quality Statements


Wildfire smoke model forecasts 

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s FireWork Forecast

FireSmoke Canada’s BlueSky Forecast