Soaring temperatures and thick humid air can cause breathing difficulties for a number of people as summer approaches each year.

Add a cloth face mask to the equation and those problems can be further exacerbated.

With southern Ontario and Quebec experiencing their first heat wave of the season this week, health experts say it’s best to ditch the mask when walking around outside.

“When you’re breathing through a mask you’re having to work a little bit harder to breathe in the first place, especially depending on how thick your mask is,” said Dr. David Price, chair of the department of family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton. “And then the other thing is you’re rebreathing some of your air, so it’s heating it up a little bit.

“So you’ve got not only the heat on the outside, but now you’ve got the heat inside the mask too.”

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Environment Canada says on its website that heat warnings are issued when high temperature or humidity conditions are “expected to pose an elevated risk of heat illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.”

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Temperatures in Toronto were expected to reach 31 C Tuesday,