Forest fire smoke and your health – North Algoma special air quality alert

With active forest fires in northwestern Ontario and eastern Manitoba, Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for parts of north Algoma, including White River, Wawa and Dubreuilville.  Smoke plumes from these active fires may result in deteriorated air quality across these areas.

Algoma Public Health cautions residents that air pollution from wildfire smoke can be harmful to health and aggravate heart or lung conditions.

“Common, mild symptoms of smoke exposure include sore and watery eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, mild coughing, or headache,” says Nicole Lindahl from Algoma Public Health.  “People at higher risk may have more serious symptoms, like shortness of breath, severe wheezing or coughing, chest pain, or heart palpitations.  Anyone with these severe symptoms should seek prompt medical care.”

Those most at risk are:

  • Children
  • Elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • Anyone with a heart or lung condition
  • Anyone doing strenuous exercise or work

Here are some other ways to reduce your risk during possible wildfire smoke exposure:

  • Limit or avoid outdoor activity and strenuous physical activities
  • At home and in vehicles, keep your windows closed and set the ventilation system to recirculate
  • If you have asthma, COPD, or other breathing problems use your medication as prescribed by your doctor, and seek medical care if needed
  • Note: wearing a cloth or medical mask helps prevent infection from COVID-19, but these masks do not provide protection from wildfire smoke
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