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Hazy conditions could heighten respiratory complications in North Dakota

The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality advises residents to consider limiting prolonged outdoor activity while smoky conditions persist across the state.

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Smoky air from Canadian wildfires fills downtown Fargo on Thursday, July 29, 2021. The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality issued an alert on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, advising people, especially those with respiratory conditions, to consider limiting prolonged outdoor activities while smoky conditions persist.
David Samson / The Forum
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BISMARCK — The agency tasked with protecting and monitoring the quality of air, land and water resources in the state is urging caution to residents due to smoky conditions.

The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality issued an alert on Tuesday, Sept. 6, advising people, especially those with respiratory conditions, to consider limiting prolonged outdoor activities while smoky conditions persist.

An online tool, available at airnow.gov, uses the U.S. Air Quality Index, or AQI, devised by the Environmental Protection Agency, and communicates the information in color-coded categories.

The site had the Fargo-Moorhead area and points north and south in the yellow or "moderate" category as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Conditions are expected to remain hazy through at least Friday, according to the site.

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A section of central North Dakota, including Bismarck, was in the orange or "unhealthy for sensitive groups" category.

The conditions could be heightened further when combined with hot weather, the department said in a news release.

High temperatures in the mid 80s are predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday, and upper 80s on Thursday before a cold front moves through Thursday evening, according to WDAY Stormtracker Meteorologist Jared Piepenburg.

Wildfires in the western part of the U.S., including western Montana, Idaho, along with Canada are to blame for the smoky air.

Fine particles of ash and soot, or particulate matter, have been increasing over the course of the day Tuesday across North Dakota.

Particulate matter can irritate the respiratory system, especially for those who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or conditions such as asthma and allergies.

People with respiratory conditions, the elderly and young children are advised to avoid prolonged outdoor exposure, and anyone who has trouble breathing because of the smoke should seek immediate help from a medical provider, the department said.

Air samples are being closely monitored and if conditions worsen, the Environmental Quality department will provide further updates.

Huebner is a 35+ year veteran of broadcast and print journalism in Fargo-Moorhead.
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