For the second time this month, Environment Canada has issued a Special Air Quality Statement for London, Middlesex County and the surrounding region, because of higher levels of air pollution caused by smoke from forest fires. The level of air pollution is monitored through the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks’ Air Quality Health Index (AQHI). As of 1:00 p.m. today, the local AQHI stood at 3 or Low Risk, however it is projected to reach 5 or Moderate Risk later today, before climbing to 7, which is considered High Risk, overnight and into tomorrow.
“When Environment Canada issues Special Air Quality Statements, it’s important for people to be aware of how they are feeling when they exert themselves or spend time outside. The reduced air quality is usually felt more by people who are at greater risk, particularly those with heart or respiratory conditions,” says Dr. Alex Summers, Medical Officer of Health with the with the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “We‘re not currently recommending that people reduce or reschedule outdoor activities and events, but we do want to remind them to monitor how they’re feeling, especially if breathing becomes difficult. If that happens, they should stop their activities and go to a space where there is clean, cool air.”
To reduce the potential for respiratory issues caused by reduced air quality, consider:
- Reducing outdoor activities if you have lung disease, such as asthma or heart disease; or if you are an older adult, young child, or are pregnant.
- Going indoors if you or someone in your care experiences shortness of breath, wheezing including asthma attacks, severe cough, dizziness or chest pain.
- Taking a break from activities if you do not have access to a space with proper ventilation or move to a public space such as a library, shopping mall or community centre.
- Checking in on people who may be more susceptible to bad air quality.
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Listening to your body and reducing or stopping activities if you experience breathing difficulties or other symptoms.
- Contacting your healthcare provider if you have symptoms and they do not improve.
- Being aware of your mental health. Feeling anxious or isolated during an event such as this is normal. If you experience feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, contact your mental health care provider for advice or visit https://www.wellnesstogether.ca/en-CA.
For more information about Environment Canada’s Special Air Quality Statement, visit: https://weather.gc.ca/city/pages/on-137_metric_e.html.
Dan Flaherty, Communications Manager, Middlesex-London Health Unit,
519-663-5317, extension 2469 or 519-617-0570 (cell)
Dr. Alex Summers, Medical Officer of Health, Middlesex-London Health Unit