BISMARCK (KFGO) – The state Dept. of Environmental Quality is once again advising North Dakota residents, especially those with respiratory conditions, to consider limiting prolonged outdoor activities while smoky conditions remain across the north central and eastern parts of the state Wednesday due to wildfires in northwestern Canada.
The DEQ advisory says particulate matter, or tiny particles of ash and soot in the smoke, has been increasing overnight. While the Canadian fires are sending smoke across most of the state, they say higher ground-level impacts seem to be concentrated in the east and north central portions of the state.
Because particulate matter can irritate the respiratory system, especially for those who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or conditions such as asthma and allergies, DEQ says people should avoid prolonged exposure outdoors. Those with respiratory conditions, the elderly, and young children are advised to avoid prolonged outdoor exposure and people reacting to smoke to the extent that it affects breathing should seek immediate help from a medical provider. General health-related smoke questions should be directed to the Health and Human Services Operating Center at (701) 328-0707.
Due to the active wildfires and changing wind patterns, air quality can be variable and unpredictable so it may improve at times or get worse very quickly according to the advisory.
For up-to-date information on the region’s current air quality and respiratory protection tips during a smoke event, visit fire.airnow.gov. The AirNow mobile phone app, and many other weather apps, also include air quality information.