SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — You may want to limit your time outdoors even in the midst of our pleasant spring weather.
Smoke from wildfires in Canada has turned our hazy skies into a potential breathing hazard for people with asthma and other chronic health conditions.
A reddish sun is a sight to behold, but it can also be a red flag for the air you breathe.
“Just tolerate it as it comes,” Marv Okrina of Sioux Falls said.
84-year-old Marv Okrina is mowing the lawn underneath a hazy sky. He’s limiting the time he spends outdoors.
“I’ve been outside this morning for about an hour. But that’s about as much as I’ll take for several hours so I’ll be okay,” Okrina said.
Weather patterns have pushed smoke from Canadian wildfires into South Dakota, putting people at-risk who have conditions like asthma, COPD, and heart disease. Pregnant women, older people and the very young are also at risk.
“It’s that very small particulate matter that can invade our upper-airway defense systems and go into our lower airway and cause inflammation, swelling of those airways, increase risk of respiratory illness,” Sanford Health pulmonologist Dr. Paul Berger said.
Dr. Paul Berger recommends people to back-off on their outdoor activities while the skies remain smoky.
“Probably not stay out as long as I would normally, and drink a lot of water,” Gwen Pederson of Sioux Falls said.
But even heading inside doesn’t always give you 100-percent protection. Some of those microscopic particles can sneak their way inside your home.
“For those people who are at high risk, if you’re going to stay indoors, then maybe being in a room that’s got filtered air, that’s away from windows, away from doors and that way you’re at lower risk from being affected by that particulate matter,” Dr. Berger said.
After a long, harsh winter, many South Dakotans enjoy their time outside.
“And it’s relaxing to dig in the dirt,” Pederson said.
But it’s a little less relaxing when the smoky sky has left their spring in a haze.
“Hopefully, it will go away soon. I prefer the clear blue,” Pederson said.
Even people who are not at-risk can experience symptoms from the smoke including red, itchy eyes along with congestion and coughing.