Smoke from Canada wildfires could aggravate health issues,
FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — As wildfires in northwestern Canada send smoke across our region, the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality is advising those, especially with respiratory conditions, to limit prolonged outdoor activities.
The National Weather Service in Grand Forks says a cold front will drive wildfire smoke to the ground by Thursday as winds shift to the north and northwest.
But until then, drivers should prepare for changing visibilities that could be as low as one quarter in some areas.
The state says small particles of soot and ash can irritate those who struggle with allergies, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“As we’ve been kind of monitoring the air here with our monitoring network, it’s bad….to put it lightly, I haven’t seen numbers like this in 24 years,” said Ryan Mills with the ND Dept. of Environmental Quality.
With Fargo Marathon events this week, a pulmonologist at Essentia Health says it’s still safe enough to run for most.
“If it’s within that 50 to 100 range, the vast majority of us, definitely the vast majority of runners, who are still a step above us, should be just fine running the marathon, same with the spectators,” said Dr. Karol Kremens.
The air quality warning is a troubling sign for kids because of how much more active they are than adults and their developing lungs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, twenty percent of Fargoans are under eighteen years old. That means one in five people running the marathons could be at high risk.
“Living in Fargo, in terms of exposure, is far better than living in downtown Los Angeles where the level of particulate matter will always hover around 80 or 70. We’re on average hovering about 27. Kids’ marathon should be fine,” said Dr. Kremens.
He says if you want to play it safe, the best thing you can do is stay indoors.
“Close the windows and use AC. AC will have its own filter. It won’t filter all the particles, these are very small particles after all, but it’s going to filter enough that staying indoors with closed windows should be enough,” Dr. Kremens said.
Experts recommend using airnow.gov for the latest on the air quality index.