By Jack Wilson
The Townships briefly experienced poor air quality June 6, as wildfires raged throughout Quebec, said Éric Lampron-Goulet, medical advisor to the public health direction of the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS. Though fires continue to burn in the province, air quality in the region has improved, with indicators improving in the night between June 6 and 7.
The period of smog began around 11 a.m., due to forest fire smoke, Lampron-Goulet said. The public health authority didn’t detect any uptick in calls to Info-Santé or visits to ERs, but “there really needs to be a strong increase to detect it,” he said. “We know that smog causes health problems, but it wasn’t necessary a large proportion affected.”
During periods of smog, Lampron-Goulet said residents should remain inside, close their windows and refrain from intense physical activity. Smog can cause symptoms “resembling allergies,” he said, such as an itchy throat or tingling eyes. It can also lead to more serious impacts on the heart and lungs. Those with heart or lung conditions are most vulnerable and should be especially vigilant, he said.
Surgical masks worn to protect against COVID-19 won’t offer protection from smog, Lampron-Goulet said. “Only N95s have a possibility of helping.” Still, public health authorities aren’t recommending people wear N95s as their effect “hasn’t been studied.” In some situations, such as working outside in smog with a heart or lung condition, wearing an N95 “could be considered,” he added.