There are already wildfire poor air quality warnings in Ontario

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Published May 12, 2024 at 2:48 pm

Poor air quality, wildfires, smoke, climate change, advisory, statement, air pollution, safety, health.

A poor air quality statement is in effect for certain parts of Ontario today, May 12.

Wildfire smoke from the Canadian Prairies has led to poor air quality and reduced visibility across several regions in Ontario.

Environment Canada and the Province of Ontario have issued alerts, indicating that conditions are expected to improve by this evening. However, the smoke continues to pose a significant health risk to residents in the area.

This air quality advisory follows the Emergency Preparedness Week discussions held on May 9. The government emphasized the need for preparedness in the face of natural disasters, particularly wildfires, which are intensified by climate change.

Minister Harjit S. Sajjan and other government officials highlighted Canada’s preparedness for the 2024 wildfire season, noting the potential for dry and warm conditions due to El Niño and announcing new initiatives to bolster the country’s response capabilities and wildfire mitigation efforts.

According to weather.gc.ca, the smoke is moving from west to east, it will be visible in Atikokan and pass through places like Dryden, Ignace, and Vermilion Bay. It will continue along the southern shore of Lake of the Woods, impacting Kenora and Nestor Falls and moving northward to Red Lake and Ear Falls. Additionally, the smoke extends to Fort Frances, Rainy Lake, and the Rainy River, covering a vast area from northwestern to central Ontario.

While southern Ontario is currently unaffected by the air quality statement, residents are encouraged to look out for any changes.

Some health precautions and safety measures outlined by Environment Canada include:

  • Vulnerable groups, especially those with respiratory or heart conditions, the elderly, children, and pregnant individuals, are advised to limit outdoor activities.
  • The public should monitor their health symptoms and stay informed through the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI).
  • Reducing indoor air pollution is recommended, which includes avoiding indoor smoking and using high-efficiency air filters in HVAC systems.
  • For those who need to be outdoors, wearing a well-fitted N95 mask is advised to minimize exposure to particulate matter.
  • Following local health advisories and talking to your healthcare provider if severe symptoms develop is important.

Resources such as Wellness Together Canada are available for those experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression due to the ongoing conditions.

For more detailed advice on protecting yourself from wildfire smoke and the latest air quality reports, you can visit Environment Canada’s website here or check your local health advisories.

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