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Wildfires prompt air quality concerns across ND

A view of Jamestown looking to the World's Largest Buffalo shows the smoke in the air from wild fires in Montana and southern Canada. The smoke has settled in the region cutting visibility to about two miles and making it difficult to breathe for some people. John M. Steiner / Forum News Service

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — Smoke from wildfires in Montana and Canada is causing health concerns, according to Chuck Hyatt, manager of data collections for the Division of Air Quality for the North Dakota Department of Health.

"The smoke is getting to an unhealthy level," he said. "We are telling people to avoid it as much as possible in their daily activities."

Hyatt said the level of smoke posed the greatest danger to the elderly, young children and anyone with a respiratory condition.

"We're worried about the fine particulate matter," Hyatt said. "Those fine materials can get into the lungs and cause problems."

Hyatt recommended wearing a face mask with an N95 rating when outdoors. A mask with that rating would eliminate 95 percent of the particulate matter in the air.

"Actually, people should avoid (the smoke) as much as possible in their daily activities," he said. "If you are in a building, turn the air conditioner to recirculate to keep from drawing the smoke in. If you have to be outside, don't exert yourself."

The National Weather Service is predicting smoky skies across central North Dakota for much of the day, although isolated thunderstorms could bring rain that would clear the smoke. Until the smoke clears, visibility is reduced to 2 miles to 5 miles in some areas.

More information on the smoky conditions is available at www.ndhealth.gov/AQ.

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