What is the current wildfire-related air quality in Timiskaming and what should you do?

This page is updated every Tuesday and Friday between June and October, or more frequently if the local air quality situation changes. Last updated June 14, 2024. 

The smoke-related air quality in Timiskaming is currently low

What you should do:2 

Ideal air quality for outdoor activities. 

 

What you should do if you are at higher risk*:

Enjoy your usual outdoor activities.

See more ideas on how to reduce your health risks.

*Find out if you are at high risk.

See what you should do for all levels of the scale.

 

The air quality scale is as follows: low risk has a PM2.5 readings of 1 to 3, moderate risk from 4 to 6, high risk from 7 to 10, then all values over 10 are considered very high risk.  Timiskaming’s monitor readings as of June 14, 2024 are: Kirkland Lake 0, Larder Lake 0, Earlton 0, Temiskaming Shores 0, and Haileybury 0. All these readings are in the low risk air quality category.This map shows the Particulate Matter (PM2.5) from various air monitors in Timiskaming as of June 14, 2024.3 

It is important to interpret these readings with caution. Factors such as differences in calibration, weather conditions, and the location and placement of the monitors, can influence the accuracy and reliability of the measurements.

These monitors were provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada, and are generously hosted and maintained by various community partners.

 

 

Smoke forecast

This map shows if smoke is expected to occur in Timiskaming. The map is of Ontario.

There is no smoke expected in the Timiskaming area from June 14 to June 16. 

The information and pictures above are from the Government of Canada’s 72h Maps at Ground Level webpage

Active Wildfires

Currently, there ar no wildfires in Timiskaming. 

Map showing the previous details. 

This information and picture above are from the Natural Resources Interactive Map.

What is in wildfire smoke? Wildfire burning in the forest with wildfire smoke filling the air.

Wildfire smoke is made up of a mixture of gases and very small particles that are produced when wood and other organic matter burn. The small particles in wildfire smoke also contain other types of air pollution and have been linked to serious health effects. Smoke also contains toxic gases like carbon monoxide that can be harmful to your health.

Smoke particles are small and can get deep into your lungs and may be absorbed into the bloodstream.

What are the health risks?

Your body will try to protect itself against the smoke particles by making more tears and mucous.

Exposure to wildfire smoke can cause:

  • runny nose
  • scratchy throat
  • irritated sinuses
  • headache
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain

Certain sensitive populations (children, older adults, pregnant women) may feel the effects of smoke earlier and have more severe symptoms than others in the community. Smoke exposure can worsen existing lung conditions such as COPD and asthma, and worsen cardiovascular outcomes.  Most people will recover quickly from smoke exposure.

If you have uncontrolled coughing, wheezing or choking, or your breathing does not improve when you go indoors, consult your health care provider or call 811 or chat online at ontario.ca/health811.

It is important to note that each person reacts differently to smoke; some are at higher risk of experiencing adverse effects. People in the following groups should reduce their exposure to smoke:  

• Children 
• Seniors 
• Pregnant individuals 
• Those with lung disease (asthma or other chronic respiratory diseases) 
• Those with heart disease 
• Smokers 
• People experiencing homelessness. 
• Those who work outdoors

Keep an eye on your neighbours, family and friends, and people in your care who may be more susceptible to wildfire smoke. Encourage them to seek help if needed and give them tips to protect themselves. 

How can I protect myself and minimize the health effects of wildfire smoke? 

  • Stay out of the smoke as much as possible.
  • If it looks smoky outside, it is best to stay indoors, with the windows closed, whenever possible. If the indoor temperature rises to an uncomfortable level, opening the window may be necessary to avoid heat exhaustion. Ideally, use air conditioning, if it is available, or indoor fans to keep cool, and be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Reduce or avoid outdoor physical activity when possible.
  • If you have an air cleaner that will reduce levels of small particles in indoor air, use it and stay in the room where it is located, where possible.
  • Use air conditioning (on the recirculate setting) 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.
  • Limit smoking tobacco as much as possible – smoking puts added stress on your lungs and on those around you.
  • If you have asthma or other respiratory conditions, be vigilant about avoiding smoke and take your prescribed medicine. Speak with your health care provider to get the specific advice that is right for you.

Face masks for wildfire smoke N-95 face mask being worn while walking outdoors on a smoky day.

Using a N95 or equivalent respirator can reduce your exposure outside to fine particles found in wildfire smoke. Proper fitting respirators prevent air from travelling through small gaps between the mask and your face. It is generally these fine particles that pose the most significant health risk. Respirators, however, do not minimize exposure to the gases in smoke from wildfires.  

This strategy may greatly benefit those at higher risk of experiencing adverse effects and those who spend extended periods in unhealthy air due to work or other circumstances.

A single-strap dust or surgical mask will not provide adequate protection from smoke. Respirators are not designed to fit children and won't protect them from wildfire smoke. 

Where can I learn more about local conditions? The shoreline of a lake is barely visible due to thick wildfire smoke.

Resources/References:

Air cleaners - Ideally the choice to purchase an air cleaner is made prior to a smoke emergency, as it may be difficult to access one during the event. High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter air cleaners that do not produce excess ozone can help reduce indoor particle levels. Their effectiveness will depend on if the unit is properly matched to the size of the indoor space. Types of units vary from single room to large central room air cleaners. Only portable room units that do not produce excess ozone should be used. See the following link from California Air Resources Board (CARB) that certify air cleaners that produce little to no ozone: California Certified Air Cleaning Devices

Air conditioners - Make sure to set your air conditioners (at home and in your car) to re-circulate indoor air rather than drawing outdoor air.  If the air temperatures become too hot, open your windows and doors.

1This scale represents a summarized value from all purple air monitors in Timiskaming, which measure Particulate Matter. The recommendations are from the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) scale, which uses a combination of particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone and nitrogen dioxide, however, only data on particulate matter is available for our health unit area. For more details on real-time weather alerts, visit Environment Canada.

2Government of Ontario. Wildfire Smoke and Air Quality Reference Document, 2024. Version 1.0 (05/2024). ISBN 978-1-4868-8087-4

3Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Brief recommendations for all levels of air quality below.

Health risk

(air quality, PM2.5)

At-Risk Population*

General population


LOW

Enjoy your usual outdoor activities

Ideal air quality for outdoor activities.




MODERATE

Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you are experiencing symptoms.

No need to modify your usual outdoor activities unless you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.




HIGH

Reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also take it easy.

Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.





VERY HIGH

Avoid strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also avoid outdoor physical exertion.

Reduce or reschedule  strenuous activities outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

- Meteorological Services of Canada in collaboration with the University of Northern British Columbia. Mapping tool. https://cyclone.unbc.ca/aqmap

 


 

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