Smoke from fires in northeastern Ontario and Quebec can be seen across the GTA, and Toronto residents have reported a “campfire” smell in the air, as well as a hazy quality to the outdoor atmosphere. According to the World Air Quality Index, Toronto has the 16th worst air quality in the world, while Detroit and New York City in the United States are second and third, respectively, surpassed only by Delhi in India.
It is advised that people stay indoors as much as possible while the air quality remains in flux. Here’s a list of what Torontonians can do to beat the haze.
If you’re a sporting event organizer, consider postponing
In a statement to CP24, a representative for Toronto Public Health said outdoor sporting events can be particularly harmful because participants are more likely breathe deeply and rapidly, increasing their exposure to air pollution.
“It is important to reduce the intensity of activities or reschedule events when the health risk is moderate or high, especially if participants start experiencing symptoms,” continued the statement.
Know the symptoms of air pollution exposure
If you have to spend time outside, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of air pollution exposure. According to Toronto Public Health, symptoms can include irritated eyes, increased mucous production, coughing and difficulty breathing. People with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses may be more sensitive to air pollution and require increased levels of medication to combat these symptoms.
Young, active children, elderly adults, people with respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses, and those participating in strenuous outdoor exercise are considered “at risk” for adverse reactions to air pollution, according to Toronto Public Health.
Dr. Carmine Simone, vice president of medical affairs at Michael Garron Hospital, advises contacting your healthcare provider if you or a loved one experiences shortness of breath, wheezing (including asthma attacks), severe cough, dizziness or chest pains.
"Individuals experiencing urgent, potentially life-threatening health concerns should call 9-1-1 or go to their nearest hospital emergency department," Simone continued in a statement.
Keep your indoor air clean
In a tweet, Environment Canada suggested people living in areas affected by wildfire smoke should make an effort to keep their indoor air clean. This can be done by keeping doors and windows closed and monitoring HEPA filters to ensure they don’t need a change.
Environment Canada also suggests taking a break from the smoke by temporarily moving to a large public indoor area such as a library or shopping mall.
Keep an eye on the news
Air quality can fluctuate quickly. While it’s unlikely Toronto will need to evacuate in the near future, it’s best to keep an eye on Environment Canada and local news for any changes.