Air quality alert issued for City of Winnipeg ahead of CFL season opener

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The CFL is finally back in action tonight after 620 days away, but there will be one more challenge for the league to overcome as it gets started.

Environment Canada and Health Manitoba issued a special air quality advisory alert for the City of Winnipeg on Thursday. The Blue Bombers are scheduled to open the CFL schedule against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Investors Group Field at 7:30 pm local time.

According to the alert, numerous forest fires are sending plumes of smoke throughout much of Manitoba. The most dense smoke will be in the vicinity and downwind of the fires.

A shift to northerly winds earlier this morning brought the smoke back into most areas. It is expected to linger into Friday.

Individuals exposed to the poor air quality 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.

Due to the smoky conditions, individuals living in or travelling to the City of Winnipeg are advised to be aware of potential health concerns that can be associated with current air conditions. In these current conditions, even healthy individuals may experience sore eyes, tears, coughing and a runny nose.

In areas affected by smoke from wildland fires, Manitobans are encouraged to:
– limit outdoor activity and/or strenuous physical activity; if breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity
– reduce exposure to smoke by staying indoors or moving to areas with cleaner air, as conditions can vary dramatically by area
– turn off furnaces and air-conditioning units that may draw smoke indoors
– keep indoor air cleaner by avoiding smoking or burning other materials

People at higher risk include young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with heart or lung conditions (particularly asthma), and therefore should avoid as much exposure to smoke as possible.

The situation could pose a risk to CFL players trying to perform at their athletic peak but the league is expected to battle through the less than ideal conditions. However, the Saskatchewan Roughriders had to move their walk-through practice indoors earlier today due to poor air quality in Regina.