SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — An air quality alert for areas of South Dakota has been issued by two state agencies.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) and Department of Health (DOH) issued an air alert Thursday (May 18) for areas of the state where smoke from Canadian wildfires has settled.

The news release said the smoke is causing low visibility and increased fine particulate matter pollution. The pollution levels are greater than the National Ambient Air Quality Standard.

The particulate matter level is PM2.5, according to the release.

These levels may be of a concern to public health.

Elderly citizens, young children and individuals with respiratory problems are the most susceptible to the smoke. All people should avoid excessive physical exertion and minimize outdoor activities during periods of low visibility caused by the wildfire smoke. People are also encouraged to keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors.

Air pollution can aggravate heart and cardiovascular disease as well as lung diseases like asthma and COPD. When the air quality is unhealthy, people with these conditions may experience symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or fatigue. Anyone concerned about health effects related to poor air quality should contact their health care provider.

Individuals may track the real time PM2.5 concentrations by visiting DANR’s website or EPA’s website.
An explanation of the air quality index levels and their meaning can be found at online as well.
Find an outdoor activity and air quality guide created by the EPA and CDC online.