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North Dakotans urged to monitor air quality and take protectice measures during smoky conditions

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality advises the public to take precautions due to unhealthy levels of wildfire smoke circulating throughout the state. This smoke is being carried by current wind and weather patterns. The air quality index in our state has generally been ranging from moderate (yellow) to unhealthy (red).

In general, everyone is advised to use common sense and avoid prolonged exposure outdoors. Elderly persons, children, and individuals with heart or lung disease are particularly susceptible to ash particles and should take extra precautions to avoid exposure. Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, causing coughing, a dry scratchy throat, and irritated sinuses. Elevated particulate matter in the air can trigger wheezing in those who suffer from respiratory conditions, such as asthma or emphysema/COPD.

If you see or smell smoke, protect your health by avoiding exposure:

· If possible, stay inside with windows and doors closed until smoke levels subside.

· Reduce outside physical activity.

· Set air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside.

What you should do depends on the air quality index and your personal health status. Due to the active wildfires and changing wind patterns, air quality can be variable and unpredictable. Air quality may improve at times or get worse very quickly. NDDEQ strongly recommends checking the latest air quality data for your area by searching your location at AirNow.gov.

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