Canadian wildfires made air quality in Grand Forks drop to unhealthy levels Saturday evening throughout Sunday. The air quality remained unsafe for sensitive groups until late Monday morning.
The rain today should have cleared out the remaining pollution, according to Amanda Lee, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks. Air quality returned to healthy levels on Monday afternoon.
The low air quality resulted primarily from Canadian wildfires, but fireworks and bonfires from July 4 may have had a small impact, as well.
“Depending on what the wind is doing at different levels of the atmosphere, it can pull smoke into the local air,” Lee said. “The source can be hundreds of miles away.”
Elderly people, those with underlying respiratory and cardiovascular problems and children are at the highest risk for experiencing adverse health effects from the poor air quality. However, when the air quality reaches unhealthy levels like those seen Saturday and Sunday, people that are not typically at risk may experience breathing problems.
“It can impact people around here more because there’s generally good air quality,” Lee said.
Noticeable signs of poor air quality include haze and a smoky smell, which some Grand Forks residents reported experiencing on Saturday and Sunday on social media.
To stay safe when air quality is unhealthy, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends that sensitive groups avoid physical exertion and stay inside and that less sensitive groups reduce physical activity and take more breaks.