Fighting wildfires — and misinformation

By Noah Freedman
The National Observer
March 12, 2024
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada

A bit of history to give you an idea of the dangers Canadian forest firefighters face as we gear up for another wildfire season. …Wildfire smoke is a mix of particulate matter (PM), ozone, ammonia, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, PAHs, volatile organic compounds — the list goes on. During days when these chemicals choked cities across North America, Ontario’s forest firefighters were on the front lines wearing nothing but bandanas for protection. …In 1994, the U.S.’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health released a scientific report definitively stating that bandanas provide zero respiratory protection from “the particulate and gaseous compounds generated by a forest fire.” So why do Ontario’s young forest firefighters still wear bandanas in 2024? Despite warnings from health agencies around the world, the Ontario premier has taken the position of uncertainty and quiet denial. …Meanwhile, Ontario continues to exclude them from presumptive health-care benefits given to urban firefighters.


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