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Should you be wearing a mask during times of poor air-quality?

Smoke from wildfires throughout Ontario continues to cause air quality concerns in southwestern Ontario.

Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement Wednesday with an air quality health index of 8 or high risk. Thursday's air quality health index is forecasted at 7.

Many people may be asking themselves if they should wear a mask while outdoors.

Windsor Essex County Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mehdi Aloosh said well-fitting respirator-style masks could be beneficial for those spending prolonged periods outdoors.

"They should be well fitted to prevent particle matters goes to the lung, and goes to the bottom of the lung which can cause diseases and irritation," said Dr. Aloosh.

However, he says while the mask can prevent people from breathing in particle matter, there are other things in wildfire smoke that masks will not protect people from.

"There are other materials in the wildfire smoke which are volatile organic compounds, ozone, nitric oxides and other pollutants, respirators will not prevent that," said Aloosh.

The health unit warns people with lung disease (such as asthma) or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, and people who work outdoors are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke.

To limit the effects it's recommended to limit time outdoors, keep doors and windows closed, and use an air purifier if available.

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