Try to limit your time outside today.
Air pollution from Canada wildfires has reached levels that are “unhealthy for sensitive groups” on Tuesday, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. That includes children, healthy adults who exert themselves, people with preexisting lung conditions like asthma and people with heart disease.
The worst of the pollution will be in western and northern Maine. The eastern interior will experience moderate pollution, while the Down East and midcoast should remain at “good” levels.
Effects of the air pollution include shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation and an uncomfortable feeling in the chest. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection:
— Avoid outdoor strenuous activity.
— Consider wearing an N95 or KN95 mask. If you don’t have one on hand, a tight-fitting mask works.
— For indoor areas, close windows and circulate air with fans or an air conditioner.
Over the past several weeks, Canadian wildfire smoke has led to unhealthy air quality across the United States, most notably in New York City and Chicago, but Maine has mostly been spared. But the plume was pushed down into the Great Lakes over the weekend, and has been drifting east since, placing Maine right in its path.
More than 24 million acres in Canada have been burned by the wildfires this year, according to CNN. There are still more than 880 fires still burning in Canada despite extensive firefighting efforts.
The smoke may linger into Wednesday in some regions. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection recommends monitoring local air quality information to stay updated.
Jules Walkup is a Report for America corps member. Additional support for this reporting is provided by BDN readers.