Wildfires in Canada & Traveling Smoke

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By Marisa Thomas

In western Canada, wildfires started burning more than a week ago. There’s now 80 active fires across the Alberta region. When it comes to fires, there are multiple health risk.

“So number one, there’s all sorts of gases that are produced when there is a fire, but there’s also really, really fine particulate matter. So you need to be thinking about how both the gases and the particulate matter might impact your eyes, could easily impact your skin, and then more importantly, both of those gases and that fine particulate matter can make its way deep into your respiratory system,” epidemiologist Dr. Becky Dawson said.

As smoke moves with the weather, parts of the eastern U.S. might see some haze. Right now, the Erie region is on the outskirts for smoke, and the air quality is good. Dr. Becky Dawson said the best thing to do is to stay alert on the weather.

“So for the situation that we’re in right now, where we’re watching a fire happen, you know, far away from us, but we’re also watching the weather that’s going to bring that smoke potentially into the area. What people need to be doing is really paying attention to the meteorologists and listening to what they’re saying,” Dawson said.

If smoke and haze do increase, Dawson said for those who have respiratory issues, staying inside until it clears might be the best route.

“So parents with asthmatic kids, if we do have this haze, might want to ask for their kids to stay in at recess, not be outside running around with others while they’re breathing in all of that smoke material. Then for older people, again, if your lungs are compromised or you struggle with heart disease, it’s probably a good idea, again, to avoid being outside for the few days until the air clears,” Dawson said.


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