Hubick added that any amount of wildfire smoke can have a negative impact on someone’s health.
Aside from the Air Quality Health Index, another way that the air is managed is by reading the particulate matter and in the case of wildfire smoke, fine particulate matter (PMI 2.5).
PMI 2.5 can mean anything from smoke to the burning of fuels and combustible engines like cars, trucks and construction equipment.
As of Monday morning, the PMI 2.5 readings for many communities in northern Saskatchewan were between 128 to as high as 196 at the Southend Health Centre. In comparison to other locations in the world, those numbers equate to the high air quality readings in large cities in India and China where the main contributor to pollution there is the incomplete combustion of biofuel and fossil fuels.
Some studies have also looked at the effects of air pollution, poor air quality and how it compares to cigarettes. In 2015, Berkeley Earth determined that places with high PMI 2.5 readings presented health challenges similar to regular tobacco smoking, in some cases three packs a day.
Another study found people exposed to high PMI 2.5 levels were more likely to develop COPD.
Hubick said regardless of where the particulate matter is coming from or how high the readings are, it still poses a danger to everyone.
“Our lungs are meant to breathe in clean, healthy air, fresh air, and we know that anytime there’s anything that’s burnt, and the combustion has an impact on our health has an impact on our respiratory system, our cardiovascular system. It causes an inflammatory effect and overall will affect our health in a negative way,” she said.
There could be some good news for affected communities like Buffalo Narrows as rain is forecasted for the area starting Thursday, which could improve the air quality situation and aid firefighting efforts.