Smoke from forest fires in northern Saskatchewan has prompted an air quality statement for southern and eastern areas of the province.

Environment Canada says poor air quality due to the smoke will persist in parts of southern Saskatchewan on Wednesday.

Air quality is expected to improve as a band of showers, currently over the northern grainbelt, slowly drifts towards the Canada-U.S. border. However, poor air quality may return to parts of the northern grainbelt Thursday as northerly winds bring smoke from the fires.

“Due to the smoky conditions, individuals living in or travelling to the above noted areas are advised to be aware of potential health concerns that can be associated with current air conditions,” Environment Canada said in the statement.

“In these current conditions, even healthy individuals may experience sore eyes, tears, coughing and a runny nose.”

People in affected areas are encouraged to limit outdoor activity and strenuous physical activity, and to stop or reduce activity if breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable. They are also advised to reduce exposure to smoke by staying indoors or moving to areas with cleaner air, and to turn off furnaces and air-conditioning units that may draw smoke indoors.

The weather agency says people at higher risk – including young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with heart or lung conditions, particularly asthma – should avoid as much exposure to smoke as possible.