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North Dakota continues to see haze from wildfires across the country

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 12:21 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. – Wildfires are ripping through parts of the western U.S. and Canada.

Just today Your News Leader learned that the Governor of Montana declared a statewide fire emergency.

While the fires are thousands of miles away, the effects can be seen by the haze of smoke hovering over some communities.

Residents of Minot said they have noticed the slight haze across the city.

But for those who live along the Canadian border, as more smoke continues to come in from wildfires in western states and up north, the smoke is a lot more noticeable.

”It’s hard to breathe when you’re so close to the border, especially with all the wildfires that are going on right now, if you have asthma with headache problems anything like that,” said northern border resident Val Thingelstad.

To help residents monitor the smoke and stay safe, the state Department of Environmental Quality offers an Air Quality Index.

It posts hourly updates measuring the amount of air pollutant particles that could be harmful and provides color-coded guidelines to indicate safety.

”Basically, they wanted to come up with a way for people to visually be able to say, ‘Hey, what’s it like outside right now?’ We’re definitely seeing some elevated numbers. Now you start getting into the next level up which is orange, well that’s where the general population will start to feel the effects,” said Ambient Air Monitoring Manager Ryan Mills.

The state is partnered with AirNow.gov to help monitor the data across the country and with eight ambient air quality monitoring sites across the state, working around the clock to keep residents of the Peace Garden State updated.

Mills said that Sinoma, the tech company behind the Air Now website has announced they will be launching a new version of the site Thursday morning.

The new version will have more details including hourly air quality index updates, history of past smoke trends and even concentration levels.

You can access the state Air Quality Index online here, and access the AirNow website here.

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