Fire & smoke:


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Wood Smoke

Did You Know?

Kids’ lungs are still developing. They breathe more quicky than adults, which means they breathe more air, and more air pollution.

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Summertime as we know it is changing.

As climate change makes our province hotter and drier, the summer “fire season” when areas are more susceptible to wildfires is growing longer. Smoke can travel large distances; New Brunswick’s air can be impacted by fires across Canada.

All smoke is air pollution. 

Wildfire smoke harms your lungs and can cause breathing problems for everyone. 

There is no “Safe” level of exposure to smoke. Those at greatest risk include: 

  • Children 
  • The elderly 
  • Pregnant people 
  • Those with lung disease or other chronic conditions 
  • Those who work outdoors 

Some people are impacted more because of existing health conditions or their age.

Wildfire smoke contains a mix of toxic gases and particles from burning plants, trees, and other material. The fine particles (or PM2.5) in the smoke can: 

  • irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, 
  • penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream, 
  • cause coughing, wheezing, chest pain, and shortness of breath.  
  • Increase the risk of lung infections  
  • Have long-term consequences on lung health 
  • Increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. 
Preparing for Wildfires

Have a plan. 

Monitor the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) to see the real-time air pollution updates and health advisories for your area. You can check the AQHI online or install the WeatherCAN app on your phone to receive notifications when the AQHI is predicted to rise. If you are able, buy an air quality monitor for your home that measures PM2.5 

Tip: DIY air cleaners are a simple and cost-effective solution to have on-hand in an emergency. Build one with your family before the next smoke event, so you’ll be ready to make a clean room in your home when you really need it. 

You may need to evacuate. 

Make sure that your household has prepared an emergency plan and emergency kit in advance. Make sure you have an adequate supply of medication on hand. 

For more detailed information on emergency preparedness and to create your personalised emergency plan, visit: 

During a Wildire

Reduce your exposure to wildfire smoke air pollution by: 

  • Limiting your time outdoors, especially for sensitive individuals 
  • Keeping windows and doors closed  
  • Using air purifiers or HVAC systems with high-efficiency filters if possible 
  • If you do not have air filtration available at home, seek refuge in a public space like a mall or library to get a break from the smoke 

If you must go outside, 

  • Wear a properly fitted certified N95 or N99 mask  
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity 
  • Listen to your body and reduce or stop activities if you experience symptoms.  
  • Stay hydrated 

Check in on loved ones, especially those who are most vulnerable. 

Note: If you have severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, chest pain, or persistent coughing, consult a health professional right away. If you think you could be having a medical emergency, dial 911 and follow their guidance 

After a Wildfire

Smoke and ash can linger around your home. Once the air has cleared, open windows to let fresh air in.  

Ash and soot can be cleaned by thoroughly wetting down any soiled areas to reduce airborne dust. Take precautions while cleaning: 

  • Wear a well-fitted N95 mask 
  • Avoid touching your face 
  • Shower/launder clothing immediately  

Remember – wildfire smoke can have significant health implications, but by staying informed, taking precautions, and seeking medical advice if needed, you can minimize your exposure and protect yourself and your loved ones.  

Wood Smoke

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Did You Know?

Burning wood for heat is a major source of air pollution. In fact, residential burning in the wintertime causes more PM2.5 pollution than industrial sources.

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Whether from a wildfire, campfire, or wood stove, wood smoke is harmful.

Breathing in wood smoke can cause increased respiratory symptoms, increased hospital admissions, exacerbation of asthma and COPD and decrease your ability to breathe normally. No one is safe from the harmful effects of wood smoke.

For someone without lung problems, wood smoke can:

  • Irritate eyes, lungs, throat and sinuses
  • Increase the risk of heart attacks
  • Trigger headaches and allergies
  • Reduce lung function, especially in children

For someone with lung disease, wood smoke can cause all of the above sooner and it can:

  • trigger asthma attacks
  • worsen COPD
  • worsen pneumonia

Symptoms of worsening lung problems include increased cough, chest discomfort, wheeze and shortness of breath.

Wood smoke contains many pollutants, including:


Particulate Matter that is less than 2.5 microns in diameter. These microscopic particles can be inhaled deep into the lungs and become trapped in the tissue leading to the development of serious respiratory problems.

Carbon Monoxide:

Carbon monoxide reduces the bloods ability to supply oxygen to the body’s tissues which can cause stress to the heart.

Nitrogen Oxides:

Nitrogen Oxides can lower your resistance to lung infections. They can also cause irritation to the upper airways leading to shortness of breath especially in people with lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema.

Sulphur Dioxide:

Sulphur Dioxide causes the inflammation in the airways, leading to a decreased ability to breathe.


Formaldehyde can trigger asthma exacerbations and cause coughing, headaches and eye irritation.

    Over 8,000 wildfires occur in Canada each year, burning an

    average of 2.1 million hectares. 

    Page Last Updated: 28/02/2023