You are not going crazy in the big smoke today. It may look smoky and smell like one of your neighbours is having a bonfire right now, but it’s actually being caused by the 107 or more wildfires in northwestern Ontario due to wind direction. Environment Canada has issued a Special Air Quality Statement for most of southern Ontario including the GTA. Smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility. Smoke is expected or occurring and residents are advised to take extra precautions to reduce exposure.
Environment Canada warns of, “High levels of air pollution due to smoke from ongoing forest fires are possible.
“Smoke from active forest fires in northwestern Ontario has moved over southern Ontario. Elevated particulate matter levels and hazy conditions have been reported at several stations. Reduced visibility and deteriorating air quality are possible if the smoke descends to ground level.”
Due to the poor air quality, those exposed may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.
Canada’s trusted weather source says that conditions are expected to improve Tuesday with the passage of a cold front.
They advise that, “if you or those in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce your exposure. Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gases which includes many chemicals that can be harmful to your health.”
According to the province there are about 107 active wildfires raging in the northwest region. Some of the areas include Nipigon and Thunder Bay districts as well as a few areas of Red Lake district. There were also 12 new fires confirmed in the northwest region by the late afternoon of July 19.
According to the province, 32 fires are not under control, 11 fires are being held, 45 are being observed and 19 fires are under control.
One area of particular concern is sized at 48,760 hectares and is located approximately 24 kilometres west of Deer Lake First Nation. Three crews are focused on the protection of the community and critical infrastructure. The province says 24.6 mm of rainfall overnight has helped to reduce the fire behaviour, while Ministry of the Solicitor General has coordinated an evacuation of the community.
For more details about air quality, please consult www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/air-quality-health-index/wildfire-smoke.html.
Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.
Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada.