PROVIDENCE, RI The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is notifying the public that smoke from Canadian wildfires will be impacting the area, with an Air Quality Alert being issued for Thursday June 29, 2023. An alert is being issued for UNHEALTHY fine particles on the Air Quality Index. Smoke impacts are expected to increase throughout the day, heaviest late, as smoke plumes to our west and northwest are transported into Rhode Island. Expect periods of wood burning odors, haze, and unhealthy fine particles readings on local air quality monitors throughout the state. At this time, this smoke is anticipated to linger into Friday.
The fine particles in smoke are so small that they can get past the body's natural defenses and get deep into the lungs. Breathing particle pollution can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Some people are more likely to experience health effects from poor air quality, including people with asthma or other lung disease, people with heart disease, older adults, and children and babies.
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recommends people who are sensitive to particle pollution should take the following actions to protect their health:
Stay indoors with windows closed during the times significant smoke is affecting your area.
Additionally, for people outdoors, N95 masks can reduce exposure to pollutants in smoke plumes. Choose less strenuous outdoor activities and shorten the amount of time you are active outdoors.
Air quality can change throughout the day. Use AirNow.gov or download the AirNOW application for smart phones to check the current air quality and decide if it is a good time to be active outdoors.
Particle pollution can make asthma and lung disease symptoms worse. People with asthma should carefully follow their asthma management plan on days when pollution levels are high.
For people with heart disease, breathing in particle pollution can increase their risk of heart attack. Be on the lookout for symptoms like chest pain or tightness, fast heartbeat, feeling out of breath, or being more tired than usual, and contact a doctor.
As mentioned, if the smoke is reaching the ground, you will smell wood burning with reduced visibility. Elevated fine particles from smoke are expected to remain into possibly Friday.
For detailed information, please refer to DEM's air quality forecast page.
Additionally, EPA's Fire and Smoke Map has detailed information on current air quality readings in your area, including DEM and RIDOH air quality monitors, along with the network of regional low-cost sensors.