The Ontario Lung Association is advising the more than 2.4 million Ontarians living with chronic lung disease to keep a close eye on air quality as smoke from western wildfires starts to drift across the province.
“People with respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) need to be particularly careful, especially if the smoke haze coincides with a spell of hot, humid weather,” said Connie Choy, air quality coordinator with the Ontario Lung Association.
But Choy said that everyone – not just those with breathing issues – should check their local Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) – www.airqualityontario.com – when scheduling outdoor activities, particularly strenuous exercise such as running and cycling.
“Smoke from forest fires contains pollutants such as carbon monoxide and tiny particles that can travel deep into the lungs,” said Choy. “This can make it difficult to breathe and cause serious problems for people with lung disease. Exposure to drifting smoke can cause a number of symptoms from irritated eyes and throat to coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathing difficulties.”
Choy said that on days when the AQHI is moderate (4-6) or high (7-10) people with lung disease should reschedule outdoor activities and stay indoors in a cool environment with the windows and doors closed.
For more information about air quality, asthma, COPD or any other lung health issue, call The Lung Association Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or email [email protected]