GTA, southern Ontario under air quality advisory as forest fire smoke blows south

TORONTO — The Greater Toronto Area and the rest of southern Ontario are currently under a special air quality statement from Environment Canada as smoke from forest fires in northwestern Ontario blows southward.

“Smoke from active forest fires in northwestern Ontario has moved over southern Ontario,” Environment Canada said in its statement. “Elevated particulate matter levels and hazy conditions have been reported at several stations. Reduced visibilities and deteriorating air quality are possible if the smoke descends to ground level.”

The agency said that anyone exposed to the smoke should consider taking extra precautions to reduce their exposure.

“Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gases which includes many chemicals that can be harmful to your health,” the agency said.

Possible symptoms of exposure to forest fire smoke could include 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,” the statement said.

As of Monday morning, there were 117 active forest fires across Ontario, with 103 in Northwestern Ontario, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources.

“Smoke drift is pushing into most of Ontario due to wind direction & weather conditions,” the ministry said in a tweet Monday. “Hazy skies have been noted by Ontarians across the province due to smoke from fires in Northwestern Ontario & western Canada.”

According to the ministry, Ontario has seen a total of 724 fires this season, compared to 414 last year on this date. The 10-year average is 458 fires by July 18.

Environment Canada said air quality conditions in the GTA are expected to improve Tuesday as a cold front passes through the region.

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