Smoke Alert: Forest Fires in Northwestern Ontario Cause Poor Air Quality

Air Quality Alert

Wildfire Smoke Air Pollution and Health Risks

DRYDEN – WEATHER ALERT – The smoke generated by forest fires in northwestern Ontario has led to high levels of air pollution, resulting in poor air quality and reduced visibility. The deteriorated air quality is expected to persist throughout the day, posing health risks to the population.

Air Quality Alerts have been issued for Dryden, Vermilion Bay, Ignace, Armstrong / Whitesand, Pickle Lake, Cat Lake, Summer Beaver, Wunnumin Lake, Kingfisher Lake, Sioux Lookout and Savant Lake.

Health Recommendations and Protection Measures

It is important for everyone, especially individuals with lung or heart diseases, older adults, children, pregnant individuals, and outdoor workers, to take precautions and minimize exposure to wildfire smoke. Those at higher risk should consult their healthcare providers for a management plan during wildfire smoke events and ensure an adequate supply of necessary medications. If breathing becomes uncomfortable or symptoms arise, it is advised to limit physical activity and seek medical advice if severe symptoms occur.

Actions to Take and Indoor Air Quality

To mitigate the effects of smoke, individuals are encouraged to monitor their symptoms and refer to the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI). Drinking plenty of water can help cope with mild irritation caused by the smoke. Indoor air quality can be improved by using a high-rated MERV filter in HVAC systems, setting the fan to recirculate air, and keeping doors and windows closed. If spending time outdoors is necessary, wearing a properly fitted respirator mask (NIOSH certified N95 or equivalent) can reduce exposure to fine particles in the smoke, although it does not provide protection against smoke gases. Additionally, minimizing indoor air pollution sources such as smoking, burning incense and candles, and frying foods is recommended. Regular cleaning by wiping and wet mopping can help remove dust during episodes of pollution.

Community Support and Care

It is crucial to check on vulnerable individuals and offer assistance during this period of poor air quality. Taking breaks in locations with cleaner and cooler air within the community can provide relief from the smoke. Together, by implementing these measures and prioritizing health, the community can navigate the challenges posed by the ongoing smoke situation.

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