North Dakota environmental officials are urging the public to take precautions as unhealthy levels of wildfire smoke hit the state.
The smoke stems from wildfires in the western U.S. and Canada, according to meteorologists. It's been plaguing North Dakota for much of July but appeared to worsen Friday, according to data from various air monitors.
The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality is urging people to avoid prolonged exposure outdoors, and extra precautions should be taken by the elderly, children and people with heart or lung disease who are particularly susceptible to ash particles.
Smoke can cause irritation in the eyes, airways and sinuses, and lead to coughing along with a dry, scratchy throat. People with respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may experience wheezing from elevated particulate matter levels.
Environmental Quality is urging people to stay indoors. Air conditioning units and car vent systems should be set to recirculate to prevent outside air from moving inside.
Air quality can change quickly. The department suggests monitoring it through www.airnow.gov.
Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8252 or email@example.com.