Environment Canada issues special air quality statement

The Mount McAllister fire, burning 56 kilometres west of Chetwynd, has grown to an estimated 20,000 hectares, up from around 5,000 hectares in size on Tuesday. HANDOUT / B.C. WILDFIRE MANAGEMENT BRANCH

Smoke drifting into Manitoba from British Columbia and Ontario has elicited another special air quality statement from Environment Canada.
The sky over Portage la Prairie is obviously affected and the intense telltale smell of burning wood makes it seem the fires are much closer. Environment Canada’s report says elevated pollution levels are expected or occurring.
A cold front which moved into southern Manitoba during the night brought forest fire smoke along with it. The strongest fires are occurring between Red Lake and Bissett and daytime satellite pictures showed smoke from these fires drifting toward the southwest.

current Air Quality Health Index values

Special air quality statement in effect for:

• R.M. of Cartier incl. Elie St. Eustache and Springstein
• R.M. of Dufferin incl. Carman Roseisle and Homewood
• R.M. of Grey incl. St. Claude Elm Creek and Fannystelle
• R.M. of Headingley
• R.M. of Macdonald incl. Brunkild Starbuck and La Salle
• R.M. of Portage la Prairie incl. St. Ambroise
• R.M. of St. François Xavier
Individuals 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.
People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution. They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels. Pollution can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, doctor and emergency room visits, and hospital visits.
Due to the smoky conditions, individuals living in or travelling to the above noted areas are advised to be aware of potential health concerns that can be associated with current air conditions. In these current conditions, even healthy individuals may experience sore eyes, tears, coughing and a runny nose.
In areas affected by smoke from wildland fires, Manitobans are encouraged to:
• limit outdoor activity and/or strenuous physical activity; if breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity
• reduce exposure to smoke by staying indoors or moving to areas with cleaner air, as conditions can vary dramatically by area
• turn off furnaces and air-conditioning units that may draw smoke indoors
• keep indoor air cleaner by avoiding smoking or burning other materials
People at higher risk include young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with heart or lung conditions (particularly asthma), and therefore should avoid as much exposure to smoke as possible.
Manitobans with health questions or concerns can contact their health-care provider or call Health Links – Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257. More information on the health effects of smoke is available at www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/environmentalhealth/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.

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