Ontario Braces for Wildfire Smoke Pollution, Warning Issued

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Ontario Braces for Widespread Wildfire Smoke Pollution, Environment Canada Issues Warning

Wildfire smoke from northern Ontario and Quebec expected to deteriorate air quality across most of Ontario by Wednesday, prompting health concerns.

In a recent announcement, Environment Canada has cautioned that a significant portion of Ontario is set to experience the adverse effects of wildfire smoke pollution in the coming days. The smoke plumes, stemming from forest fires in northern Ontario and Quebec, are predicted to move southward by Tuesday afternoon or night, resulting in a decline in air quality throughout the region.

The air quality statement, initially applicable to southern Ontario, has now expanded to cover nearly the entire province, spanning from London to Ottawa and Toronto. According to Steven Flisfeder, a warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment Canada, the smoke plumes are anticipated to gradually progress eastward, potentially reaching the Ottawa area by noon on Wednesday.

Flisfeder explained, "We're expecting the smoke plumes from the fires in northeastern Ontario and Quebec to make their way down towards southern Ontario, deteriorating the air quality through the afternoon and evening. If you're out and about this morning, it should be OK. As we get towards the afternoon and evening, that's when the air quality will deteriorate, and people should start thinking about ways to keep themselves safe from poor air quality."

Given the unpredictability of wind patterns, Flisfeder acknowledged that the situation might change. He projected that for most parts of southern Ontario, the compromised air quality could persist until at least Thursday, with some areas potentially experiencing deteriorating conditions until Friday.

This year's wildfire smoke situation has deviated from the norm, as typically it is northern and northwestern Ontario that bear the brunt of air quality concerns. Flisfeder emphasized the impact of fires in northeastern Ontario and Quebec, stating, "We've been in a regime of smoky air making its way to the surface across southern Ontario, so it has been more of a concern than the typical year."

Environment Canada has issued a warning, highlighting the potential health risks associated with wildfire smoke, even at low concentrations. The weather agency advises individuals with lung or heart diseases, older adults, children, pregnant individuals, and outdoor workers to take extra precautions. It is recommended to consult healthcare providers and reduce or halt physical activities if breathing becomes uncomfortable.

To mitigate the effects of smoke, Environment Canada suggests staying hydrated, seeking areas with clean air, and wearing N95 masks when outdoors. Additionally, reducing indoor air pollution by refraining from smoking or vaping indoors, burning incense or candles, frying foods, using wood stoves, and vacuuming is advised. Wiping and wet mopping indoor surfaces can help eliminate dust during episodes of pollution.

As the situation unfolds, Ontario residents are urged to stay informed and prioritize their well-being by adopting the necessary measures to safeguard against the impact of the widespread wildfire smoke pollution.


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