Rowan County under air quality warning from Canada wildfire smoke

Published 1:45 pm Thursday, June 29, 2023

Rowan County is under an orange warning forecast for air quality on Thursday, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says, due to smoke from Canada wildfires.

However, the AirNow real-time air quality update also showed that Rowan County was under air quality conditions that constituted a red warning, the next step up from orange.

While the rules and warnings from the NCDEQ are based on the forecast for the day, the EPA does have stricter rules for red warnings. Sensitive groups should avoid all activity outdoors and consider rescheduling to a different time or moving activities indoors. Everyone not in those sensitive groups should follow the above advice about making outdoor activities shorter, less intense, and taking more breaks.

An orange warning means that people that are in what the Environmental Protection Agency calls sensitive groups should attempt to make any outdoor activities shorter, less intense, and take more breaks. Sensitive groups include people with heart or lung disease, older people, children and teenagers, outdoor workers, and people with asthma. The EPA also recommends that people in those groups watch out for symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath or coughing as symptoms that the air quality is affecting them and they should take a break from intense activity.

Burning of open fires on days where the Air Quality Index is at an orange warning is prohibited according to the NCDEQ.

In both cases, it is advisable for anyone with breathing issues, young children or the elderly to limit their time outdoors in today’s conditions. Stepping outside, the yellowish haze becomes visible the farther out one looks toward the horizon. Upper branches of trees and the tops of buildings are, at times, swathed in the smoke that has drifted down the east coast of the country from wildfires that continue to burn in Canada. Those fires are concentrated, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Northwestern Territories in western Canada as well as Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia in eastern Canada.

The forecast for Friday will remain orange, so all rules and warnings will remain the same from the prior day.