Special air quality statement in effect for Toronto amid record-breaking heat and high pollution

Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for Toronto and the rest of the GTA as hot and humid weather conditions create elevated pollution levels.

In a statement issued late Tuesday night, the agency said “high levels of air pollution have developed.”

“Hot and sunny conditions have resulted in increasing ground-level ozone concentrations,” the statement reads.

The agency said “high risk” air quality health index values are expected to persist for one to two hours and that higher pollution levels may persist locally tonight.

The statement, which caps off the first official day of summer, is in effect for Toronto, York, Durham, Peel, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara and other areas.

“Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath,” Environment Canada said. “Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.”

The region already sits under a heat warning due to two days of intense heat.

Toronto broke a 10-year-old temperature record Tuesday, reaching 35.3 C at Toronto Pearson, beating the previous record for June 21 of 34.4 C set back in 2012.

Wednesday is expected to be another stifling day, with an expected high of 31 C, though it will feel closer to 39 with the humidex. A UV index of 11, or ‘extreme,’ is also expected.

People are being reminded to never leave pets or people inside of parked vehicles, to stay hydrated and avoid strenuous work outdoors during the hottest parts of the day if possible.

The temperature is expected to cool somewhat on Thursday, though it will still be hot with an expected high of 28.

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