Smoke from dozens of raging wildfires in western Canada drifted south Tuesday into the U.S. and prompted multiple areas to issue air quality alerts.
The National Weather Service in Wilmington said the smoke caused hazy skies as winds from Quebec pulled it as far south as the Carolinas.
An Air Quality Alert will be in effect today for Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Preble counties, issued by the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and Regional Air Pollution Control Agency. There was an alert in effect Tuesday as well.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency, which issues alerts for Cincinnati and surrounding areas, did not issue one for the smoke.
Smoke should begin to dissipate throughout Wednesday, according to the NWS.
The air quality index forecast for the region today is 105, the same as Tuesday. Any reading of 101 or higher is considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” including children, older adults and people with cardiac or respiratory disease.
During alert periods, people in those groups should reduce prolonged time outdoors or heavy exertion due to the high levels of fine particles in the air, according to a statement from RAPCA.
People with breathing issues generally should take more breaks and do less strenuous activities while alerts are in effect.
Other states have also been affected by the traveling wildfire smoke. In Colorado, the Department of Public Health and Environment put out alerts and advisories for Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon for much of the eastern half of the state, including Denver.
“People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion; everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion,” the department said.
Particle pollution led the air quality index along parts of the Front Range to reach 168 on Saturday, the department said.
An air quality alert was also in effect over the weekend in Montana, with the greatest smoke concentrations in central and eastern parts of the state, according to the Department of Environmental Quality.
Utah's Department of Environmental Quality said Friday that it was starting to see the smoke on its monitors in northern and eastern parts of the state. It urged residents to avoid outdoor exertion in areas with visible smoke or haze.
The smoke created widespread haze across Idaho earlier in the week, according to its Department of Environmental Quality.
The fires in Canada have been burning mostly in the province of Alberta, where thousands of residents have evacuated and regional officials have issued state of emergency alerts. There have also been fires in British Columbia.
In Calgary and Edmonton, the two biggest cities in Alberta, the health impact was determined to be of “very high risk” on Saturday by the Canadian government’s Air Quality Health Index. Sensitive groups such as children and older people were advised to avoid outdoor physical exertion and the general population was urged to limit outdoor activities.
Tips to help reduce air pollution
- Avoid driving if possible. If not, combine errands or delay them until the air quality alert is lifted. While driving, avoid excessive idling, especially at drive-thru windows.
- Refuel vehicles after 8 p.m., or wait until the alert is over. Make sure your gas cap is on tightly to avoid letting gas fumes escape.
- Limit the use of gasoline-powered equipment around the home, such as lawn mowers, chainsaws, power trimmers and shredders.
- Mow lawns after 6 p.m.
For more information visit MiamiValleyAir.org or call (937) 223-6323.