toronto smog

Special air quality statement issued for Toronto as thick smog chokes out city

Toronto's skies are a mess of smog and haze this morning as air quality deteriorates fast due to forest fire smoke blowing in from northwestern Ontario.

And we're far from alone.

Environment Canada has issued special air quality statements for every part of Southern Ontario today on account of "elevated particulate matter levels and hazy conditions" caused by smoke from more than 100 active fires in the north.  

"Possible high levels of air pollution due to smoke from ongoing forest fires," wrote the government weather agency when issuing an alert for the City of Toronto early Tuesday morning. 

"Smoke from active forest fires in northwestern Ontario has moved over southern Ontario... Reduced visibilities and deteriorating air quality are possible if the smoke descends to ground level."

In Toronto, air quality levels have already tanked way beyond what's normal in Canada, or anywhere else in the world.

As of 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 20, Toronto's air quality is ranked worse than that of Beijing, New York, Kabul, Kolkata, Wuhan, Los Angeles and every other major city in the world save for Lima and Kuwait.

We're currently sitting at a 5 (or "moderate risk") on Canada's Air Quality Health Index, but data from Ontario's Ministry of the Environment shows that Toronto actually hit a reading of 10 ("very high risk") from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. last night.

Pretty as all the smog is making our newly-rouged sun look, it can be dangerous for children, seniors and people with diseases of the lungs such as asthma or COPD.

"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," warns Environment Canada.

"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."

Fortunately, conditions are expected to improve later today with the passage of a cold front through Southern Ontario. Let's hope Mother Nature also starts to help first responders in their fight against the fires raging up north... and west... and all over the globe.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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