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Smoke prompts special statement as Sault's air quality could move from 'moderate' to 'high risk'

It doesn't smell great either
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3:29 p.m. update:

Sault Ste. Marie's AQHI has reached 7, or 'high-risk'. Futher coverage here.

2:27 p.m. update:

The Sault's Air Quality Health Index has increased to 6, which remains a 'moderate' risk level. 

Original story:

The risk of breathing Sault Ste. Marie's air has increased from 'low' to 'moderate' since 10 a.m., and could worsen to 'high risk' today according to a new bulletin from Environment Canada and the Province of Ontario.

Smoke from active fires in northwestern Ontario and eastern Manitoba could result in poor air quality and low visibilities, warns Environment Canada in a special air quality statement just after 2 p.m.

"If you or those in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce your exposure. Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gases which includes many chemicals that can be harmful to your health," says the statement. "Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk."

As of 1 p.m., the Sault's Air Quality Health Index stood at 5, which requires no action for members of the general population who aren't experiencing symptoms, but should prompt those who are at risk to consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if they are experiencing symptoms.

But today's 'maximum' Air Quality Health Index could go as high as 7 today, says Environment Canada. Tonight's AQHI is expected to fall to a maximum of 6, which would put us back within the 'moderate' risk level. AQHI levels are based on readings taken at Sault College.

According to Ontario Ministry of the Environment air quality health readings, this is the worst the Sault's air has been this month. A smoky odour was evident in the east and central parts of the city early this afternoon.

Smoke from forest fires in northwestern Ontario have prompted air quality notices in a number of areas throughout Ontario, with Environment Canada warning of health dangers from a mixture of potentially harmful particles and gases.

More information on the risk of wildfire smoke is available here.