Smoke, haze impact air quality in southern Manitoba

Smoke, haze impact air quality in southern Manitoba

Air quality across much of Manitoba is being impacted by smoke and haze drifting into the province from forest fires in Alberta and B.C., prompting health concerns.

People might experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath, while children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk, Environment Canada warns in a special statement.

The agency is advising people to limit their outdoor activity and any strenuous physical activity, especially if breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable.

Winnipeg’s downtown skyline is shrouded in a haze on Friday morning. (Travis Golby/CBC)

People are also being advised to reduce their exposure to the smoke, if possible, by staying indoors.

However, if your home is not air-conditioned, be sure the house doesn’t get too warm when doors and windows are closed to keep out smoke, the weather agency cautions, adding that exposure to too much heat can also result in illness.

In addition to the air quality statement issued by Environment Canada, there is also a heat warning in effect for most of the province.

Daytime high temperatures of 32 C or hotter are expected for Friday, Saturday and Sunday for many communities. A forecast high of 36 C is expected in Winnipeg on Sunday.

As well, overnight temperatures will remain elevated during this period giving little respite from the heat.

“While periods of improvement are likely, the weather pattern will remain in place for the next couple days,” Environment Canada says.

“Smoke and reduced air quality will continue to impact portions of the province into the weekend, especially if additional forest fires develop over the region. In these current conditions, even healthy individuals may experience sore eyes, tears, coughing and a runny nose.”

Environment Canada advises against wearing a mask to protect your health from the smoke because masks can lead to a false sense of security, which may encourage increased physical activity and time spent outdoors, meaning increased exposure to smoke. Masks can also make breathing more difficult, the agency said.

In areas affected by smoke, Manitobans are encouraged to:

  • Limit outdoor activity.
  • Turn off furnaces and air-conditioning units that may draw smoke indoors.
  • Keep indoor air cleaner by avoiding smoking or burning other materials.

Anyone with health questions or concerns can contact their health-care provider or call Health Links at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257. More information on the health effects of smoke is available on the Manitoba Government website.

Published at Fri, 10 Aug 2018 10:13:40 -0400