The Maine DEP has issued an air quality alert due to smoke blowing into our region from Canadian wildfires.

How Bad Are the Canadian Wildfires?

If you think the air seems a little hazy and maybe even a little smoky today, it's not your imagination. Smoke from Canadian wildfires is crossing our state. The situation in Nova Scotia is pretty scary. According to NPR, over 16,000 people have evacuated their homes as wildfires rage, taking forests and buildings alike. As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 200 buildings have been destroyed. Amazingly, no deaths have been reported.

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All the smoke being created by those wildfires is now affecting the Northeastern United States, including Maine. On Tuesday, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued an Air Quality Alert because of a rise in particle pollution concentrations, which are expected to reach Moderate levels. They say this will cause skies to be hazy, visibility to be reduced, and an odor of smoke in the air.

What Symptoms Might We Experience?

For most people, the change in air quality may not be detectable. Others could experience a variety of symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Throat irritation
  • Uncomfortable sensation in the chest

For some, one or more of these symptoms may be barely perceptible while others could experience more severe symptoms. Days like this are especially dangerous for anyone with a respiratory disease like asthma, bronchitis, COPD, or heart disease. But healthy children and adults who exert themselves today may also experience some irritation.

How Can We Protect Ourselves?

The Maine DEP has provided a list of things that people can do to protect their health during periods of unhealthy air quality, including:

  • Avoiding strenuous outdoor activity
  • When indoors, close the windows and circulate indoor air with a fan or air conditioner

If possible, run on a treadmill today instead of outside. And, hey, if you needed an excuse not to mow the lawn today, you've got it.

More information for asthma suffers can be found on the Maine CDC Prevention and Control Program website. 

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