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Air quality a risk due to Quebec wildfires

Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 2:38 PM -

Air quality has witnessed a drop for provinces in eastern Canada today following a wildfire in southeastern Quebec Tuesday afternoon. The smoke made its way to the east, affecting areas as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Due to the compromised air quality in these areas, residents are being asked to help out by reducing their own car emissions through carpooling or taking public transit. People are also being advised that there is an increased risk of developing illnesses caused by the smoke.

Christina Daly, from the Air Quality programs division of Health Canada, suggests to pay attention to local notices and alerts in a forest fire situation. 

“If they notice symptoms such as irritation of the eyes and throat, wheezing, etc., they should avoid strenuous activity,” Daly said. 

This is especially important for at risk individuals such as children, the elderly, and those with an existing health condition such as heart and lung disease. In addition to refraining from physical exertion, people with any sort of heart or lung condition should also monitor their symptoms when the air quality is poor. 

The smoke began to travel east Tuesday and hit New Brunswick, and while the air quality was poor at the start, it has since improved by 2.5 levels.

Nova Scotia also reported the smoke reaching the province and heading over into Cape Breton. The plume has been monitored via satellite and is expected to dissipate later in the day on Wednesday for central Nova Scotia and by overnight for Cape Breton. 

As the smoke made its way to Labrador, there was reported reduced visibility in the region. By this afternoon though, a cold front will make its way in and improve the conditions. Newfoundland’s air quality has also been effected as some of the smoke has mixed down to the surface. Although most of the smoke appears to be in the upper atmosphere at this time. 

A ridge of high pressure also pushed the smoke over the Gulf of the St. Lawrence and into P.E.I. 

To find out more about the Air Quality Health Index and how air quality can affect your health visit airhealth.ca.

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