A Special Air Quality Statement has been jointly issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) on June 28, 2023 because of high levels of air pollution (smoke plumes) which are occurring due to wildfire smoke from forest fires in Quebec migrating into the City of Ottawa.
In Ottawa, high levels of air pollution will move into the area through the afternoon or the evening, resulting in deteriorated air quality. These conditions are expected to continue on Thursday and possibly on Friday.
Ottawa Public Health notifies service providers of vulnerable residents when hazardous levels of air pollution are forecasted to advise on how to deal with these conditions.
It is recommended that you:
- Download the WeatherCAN app to your mobile device to stay informed of all weather alerts, and
- Monitor the Air Quality Health Index and the health messaging to plan activities accordingly.
The MECP measures air quality in the City of Ottawa, provides hourly readings and next day forecasts on the province’s air monitoring network, and calculates the Air Quality Health Index (AHQI), which informs Ontario residents about regional air quality conditions.
Small children, pregnant people, older adults, people with lung or heart conditions, and people involved in strenuous outdoor work or sports are at greatest risk from poor air quality and should monitor their symptoms and take precautions if warranted until the air quality improves.
Air pollutants including smoke from wildfires can irritate the lungs, eyes, nose, and throat and can cause coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. People with heart or lung conditions may be more sensitive to the effects of smoke and should monitor their symptoms and take steps to reduce their exposure to smoke and, if necessary, and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen.
When wildfire smoke is affecting our air quality, residents and visitors should:
- Pay attention to local air quality reports since air quality may be poor even though you may not be able to see smoke. Information is available at www.airhealth.ca and www.airqualityontario.com and on our Ottawa Public Health website.
- Make a plan to avoid breathing in smoke. Depending on your risk factors, and what resources you have available to you, consider postponing outdoor exercise until the air quality has improved. If your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop the activity and go indoors.
- If you experience any feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, contact your mental health care provider for advice or visit Ottawa Public Health’s Mental Health resource web page.
- Consider staying indoors, shutting doors and windows, and putting your HVAC system on recirculate.
- Be aware of your symptoms. Call 8-1-1 Health Connect Ontario for non-emergency medical advice and seek medical attention if needed.
- Follow your asthma or personal care plan if you have asthma or other chronic illnesses.
- If needed, consider visiting a location like a shopping mall with filtered air.
- Keep your vehicle windows closed and set the ventilation system to recirculate.
- If you must spend time outdoors, consider wearing a well-fitted respirator type mask such as a NIOSH certified N95 or equivalent respirator.
- Check on neighbours, friends, and family and share this information.
Residents who have questions about the impact of poor air quality on their health can call the Ottawa Public Health Information Line at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656). Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.