Dr. Edward Tan, the Chief of Staff at Portage District General Hospital, recently shared valuable insights regarding the risks of decreased air quality in Portage la Prairie. While we are not currently under an air quality alert due to the wildfires in Alberta and northern Manitoba, it is crucial to understand the potential health problems and take the necessary precautions.

Dr. Tan emphasized that people with respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of poor air quality. However, even those without respiratory issues may have trouble breathing, coughing, and irritability. Although he didn't notice a significant difference in air quality in Portage these past few weeks, he stressed the importance of being prepared for future occurrences.

"I would say," Dr. Tan notes, "If you have prescribed medications for your underlying respiratory illnesses, make sure that you're taking them and make sure that you know how to take them. You can avoid going out in times where the air quality is extremely bad, when it's noticeably more smoky or foggy, as well as having other family members perhaps do some of your day-to-day errands for you, just to not exacerbate your own symptoms."

Dr. Tan highlighted the public's limited awareness of air quality issues, as they often receive less attention compared to major concerns like COVID-19.

"It's one of those things that we take for granted where we focus on big-ticket items such as COVID." Tan says, "We don't hear nearly as much about things such as radon, that can cause tons of respiratory illnesses and cancers. You don't get as much press coverage from the quality of air pollution from wildfires. It's one of those things where I feel the public should be aware that this is a public health issue that could jeopardize their health if not adequately dealt with by various government authorities."

Maintaining good air quality requires collective efforts from individuals and authorities. By staying informed, taking necessary precautions, and demanding action, Portage residents can protect their health and the well-being of the community.

Dr. Edward Tan's insights remind us of the importance of understanding the risks associated with decreased air quality and being prepared. Taking proactive measures and staying informed allows us to contribute to a healthier and safer environment.