Environment Canada warns of poor air quality caused by Manitoba forest fires

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Environment Canada is warning Manitobans about elevated pollution levels in the province caused by forest fires.

On Tuesday, the weather agency issued a special air quality statement for parts of Manitoba, including Winnipeg, saying that forest fires east of Berens River and west of Red Lake are producing thick smoke. A full list of places impacted by the air quality statement can be found online.

Environment Canada noted that winds will push the smoky air southwest on Tuesday, which will cause poor air quality and reduced visibilities in the Whiteshell, Bissett, Interlake, and Red River Valley, including Winnipeg.

Environment Canada expects the smoky air to continue into Tuesday night. Then on Wednesday, winds will blow the smoke northward, dispersing it over southern Manitoba. The weather agency noted it might change its air quality statement based on any shifts in the winds.

People who live in or are travelling to the affected areas are urged to be aware of possible health hazards associated with the air conditions. Environment Canada notes that even healthy people can get sore eyes, tears, coughing, and a runny nose.

In the areas affected by the smoke, Manitobans should limit their outdoor or strenuous activities; reduce their exposure to the smoke by staying inside or going to areas with cleaner air; turn off furnaces and air conditioning units that could bring smoke inside, and keep the air inside cleaner by avoiding smoke or burning other materials.

Those at especially high risk from the smoke include young children, elderly people, pregnant people, and people with heart or lung conditions.

Manitobans with health questions or concerns are encouraged to contact their health-care provider or call Health Links at 204-788-8200.