The northern fire burned all of southern Quebec

The northern fire burned all of southern Quebec

The smell of burning, the sky shrouded in thick fog…noxious fumes filled the air across the St. Lawrence Valley this Sunday. From Gatineau to Rimouski, through the Saguenay, air quality was deemed “poor” by the government everywhere. Forest fires have reduced Quebec’s air quality, earning the metropolis the title of the world’s most unpleasant city with polluted air.

Opaque smog enveloping southern Quebec has catapulted Montreal to the top of IQAir’s ranking of cities with the most polluted air on the planet by IQAir, a Swiss company that monitors ground-level air pollution.

The pollution index reached 238 in the morning, while Kuwait City, the world’s second most polluted city, recorded an index of 160.

The concentration of fine particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in Montreal was 35 times higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) annual guideline value for air quality.

However, the general population is not expected to experience significant health effects.

Melanie Tailhandier, head of major emergencies and environmental emergencies at the Montreal Regional Public Health Department, fumed that it will be “days, weeks” before the fumes become a public health issue.

“There may be health effects, but only during episodes [de pollution]. It’s not going to last beyond the smokestack. »

Asthma patients, people with heart problems, young children and pregnant women should be more careful if these episodes are repeated. Such concentrations of fine particles can cause suffocation, asthma attacks, wheezing or chest pain. The best precautions are to stay indoors and limit outdoor physical activity as much as possible.

Health effects may occur, but only during episodes [de pollution]. It’s not something that lasts beyond the smoke

Air pollution levels should become “acceptable” on Monday.

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Wearing a cloth mask is of no use in protecting you from this poor air quality. Only N95 masks can block these fine particles, although wearing face shields is not recommended by officials.

Series of closures

The Mont-Tremblant Ironman Challenge was canceled “due to an ash warning and high concentration of fine particles.”

“Athletes are asked to spend as little time outdoors as possible and consider wearing face coverings. […] We appreciate your understanding in these exceptional circumstances,” the organizers said in a press release moments before departure.

Nearly 3,800 athletes from 23 countries had to return home disappointed, in what would have been a record participation for this distance in Mont-Tremblant.

Activities for the Montreal Mixed Relay Triathlon World Championships met the same fate, with all events canceled for the day due to poor air quality.

Ditto for all outdoor sports and cultural activities in downtown Montreal until noon on Monday. The Montreal Botanical Garden and Insectarium were also closed. Municipal day camps will remain open but will “favor indoor activities,” according to a city press release.

Many cities have also had to close their outdoor sports facilities. The municipalities of Laval, Longueuil and Brossard have closed access to their outdoor pools under surveillance because of the smog. Water sports were open.

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