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Air quality concerns mount as the smell of smoke fills the air in Simcoe County and Muskoka

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Residents in Simcoe County and Muskoka are advised to be cautious as forest fires in Quebec impact the air quality, prompting a special statement from Environment Canada.

The national weather agency says high levels of air pollution are possible due to smoke from the fires in Quebec and could result in deteriorated air quality throughout most of the week.

Quebec has been grappling with a severe forest fire season, characterized by a high number of wildfires stretching across vast stretches of forested areas, producing large volumes of smoke that winds can carry over long distances.

The City of Barrie issued an air quality statement Tuesday due to the haze settling over the region, noting the fire department is receiving an increase in calls about the smell of smoke.

"If there is no actual visible smoke or flames issuing from a vehicle or structure, consider the smell is possibly that of wildfire smoke in the air," the City stated in a release.

Environment Canada warns people with lung disease, asthma, heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant women, and those working outdoors are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke.

The weather agency recommends staying indoors with the windows closed when possible and using an air purifier with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

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