News Coping with air that’s smoky because of forest fires SHARE ON: Bob McIntyre, staff Wednesday, Jun. 12th, 2019 Breathing smoke from forest fires like the one cur rently burning near Gogama can cause irritation, right up to a serious respiratory problem. (Supplied by Isabelle Chenard, MNRF) As great as summer in the north is, it can be made uncomfortable or even dangerous by smoke from forest fires drifting into wherever you are. Porcupine Health Unit environmental health officer Tanya Musgrave says the effects on people can be as minor as an irritant, to as major as a health problem. “It can range from anything from a headache to nose and throat and eye irritation to something obviously more severe, like respiratory type symptoms,” she outlines. Musgrave says especially at risk from the smoky air are the elderly and small kids, and someone who’s immuno-compromised due to an underlying health condition. There are ways to avoid the smoke. “Try not to spend a large amount of time outside;” Musgrave recommends, “avoid using things like exhaust fans that in your kitchen or bathroom or your clothes dryer, too; and obviously you want to avoid indoor pollutants such as tobacco smoke and heating with wood, frying of boiling food and that kid of thing, or even burning candles.” Musgrave also advises against using an air conditioner that pulls air into your house from outside. One that circulates the air already inside is better, as is the use of fans to just move the indoor air around to keep you cool.