Health People, Healthy North
Dealing with Smoke from Wildfires

How does smoke in the air affect my health?

How smoke conditions may affect your health is determined by a number of factors, such as the length of time you are exposed, how much air you breath in, your health status and the concentration of smoke in the air.
Smoke is made up of a number of components.  The unhealthiest material in wildland fire smoke is the small particles (particulates).  They may make it harder to breathe or make you cough.  These small particles can also make existing heart and lung conditions worse. 

Who is most at risk from exposure to smoke?

Young children, the elderly, and people with heart or lung conditions, like asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and congestive heart failure are more sensitive to the adverse effects of exposure to smoke.  People participating in sports or strenuous work outdoors may also be more susceptible, because they are breathing air deeply and rapidly.  Risk increases when smoke becomes heavier and as the length of time a person is exposed increases.

What are the symptoms of smoke exposure?

Exposure to smoke can cause sore eyes, tears, cough and a runny nose.  If the smoke lasts days to weeks or is very heavy, it can cause lung problems and a longer-lasting cough.  Exposure to smoke can also make heart and lung conditions worse.

For more information on the health effects due to smoke exposure, please visit the Manitoba Health website at

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