Smoke from Iqaluit dump fire blows over city
Health officials say residents should watch for wheeziness, shortness of breath and dizziness
Smoke from Iqaluit's dump fire blew over the city Thursday morning, and officials are warning people with health problems to stay indoors and reduce physical activity.
The fire has been burning for more than two weeks, and last month, city council voted to continue to let it burn.
With the smoke now over the city, health officials say people should watch for wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and dizziness.
People with heart and lung disease, the elderly and young children are more at risk. Officials are asking anyone who feels the smoke is affecting them, including if it is irritating their eyes, nose or throat, to stay indoors with the windows closed.
Officials say air exchangers should also be turned off, and people should limit any physical activity. The Department of Health says if someone can't manage their symptoms on their own, they should seek medical attention.
Joamie School and Aqsarniit Middle School closed for the morning on Thursday because of the smoke.
Under fire in the legislature
During the sitting of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, an Iqaluit MLA probed the government for more information about how the fire is affecting the health of residents.
"I'd like to ask the Minister of Health [Monica Ell] today whether her department has conducted any air quality tests in the city of Iqaluit," Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes said in the legislature.
Ell said it's not her department's responsibility to measure outdoor air quality, but said the Department of Health is working with the Department of the Environment and Health Canada to bring air monitoring equipment to Iqaluit.
Ell was unsure if there has been an increase in patients at Iqaluit's Qikiqtani General Hospital, but said some people have come in with injuries potentially related to the dump fire.
"There have been a few people who had symptoms that may be related to the dump fire, since the fire started," Ell said, adding that none of the people was seriously injured or admitted.