The recent cold stretch has been affecting the region's air quality.
According to data from the Fort Air Partnership's (FAP) monitoring stations, the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) reached the moderate risk category in all seven locations last week.
The highest ratings were recorded on Tuesday (Feb.19) in Fort Saskatchewan and Friday (Feb.22) in both Gibbons and the Fort.
"While some sources of emission, such as industrial, stay pretty constant throughout the year, we do see emissions increase from a variety of sources in the wintertime," said Nadine Blaney, executive director of Fort Air Partnership. "That includes things like home heating, fireplaces and idling vehicles."
The effects of those additional emissions are especially evident during temperature inversions, when cold air is trapped near the ground by a layer of warm air.
"We see cold temperatures and stagnant air in the wintertime, so that can lead to build up of things like particulate matter near the ground level," said Blaney. "That, in turn, will lead to an increase in air quality health index levels."
When the AQHI reaches the moderate risk category, it's recommended that at-risk populations consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous outdoor activities. On the other hand, members of the general population don't need to modify usual outdoor activities unless they experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.