Air Quality

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When the quality of the air we breathe is poor, it can affect our health. Poor air quality can be especially harmful to children, seniors, pregnant woman, and people who have chronic heart or lung problems.

Air Quality Health Index

The Ministry of the Environment has a network of 38 outside air monitoring stations across the province that collect real-time air pollution data. This information is available to the public through Ontario’s Air Quality Health Index and gives an hourly snapshot of the air quality in the area. To view the Air Quality Health Index, visit www.airqualityontario.com.

Forest Fire Smoke

Forest fire smoke is made up of a mixture of gases and very small particles that are produced when wood and other organic matter burn. To shield itself from smoke, your body will make more tears and mucous. This can cause runny noses, scratchy throat, irritated sinuses and headaches. You may also develop a cough.  

To protect yourself and minimize the health effects of forest fire smoke, the Health Unit recommends the following: 

  • If forest fire smoke is affecting your breathing or making you uncomfortable in others ways, move to a less smoky area. This may include going indoors or simply moving to an outdoor area with increased clean air flow.
  • Homes can get really hot with the windows closed. If you do go indoors to get out of the smoke, be sure that the temperature indoors doesn't create additional problems for you. Use air conditioning or a fan if available and be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • If it is smoky outside, it is best not to go outdoors to do physical activity. Stay indoors with the windows closed.
  • Use air conditioning in cars and keep windows closed. Remember, vehicles should never be run in an enclosed space like a garage.
  • Avoid using smoke producing appliances such as wood stoves and even candles.
  • Do not smoke tobacco inside - smoking puts added stress on your lungs and those around you.
  • If you have asthma or other respiratory conditions, avoid smoke as much as you can and take your prescribed medicine. Speak with your health care provider to get the specific advice that is right for you.

Additional resources:

These brochures, developed by the Canadian Public Health Association, provide you with general information about adverse health effects related to air pollution:

North Bay
Parry Sound
Burk's Falls

345 Oak Street West

705-474-1400

70 Joseph Street Unit #302

705-746-5801

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)

1-800-563-2808