DES MOINES – Yesterday an approaching cold front pulled smoke from Canadian wildfires down to ground level, and areas of unhealthy, very unhealthy, and hazardous air quality were measured across much of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Montana, Minnesota, and North and South Dakota. 24 hour averages of fine particulate levels that EPA considers unhealthy for sensitive groups were measured at Emmetsburg, Iowa yesterday.
Early this morning averages over a period of several hours in the eastern half of Iowa reached unhealthy levels for sensitive groups, and even levels considered unhealthy for everyone. Currently only the extreme eastern edge of Iowa around and south of Davenport is characterized by these levels. The smoke is expected to clear this area by mid-afternoon today. However, intermittent and patchy smoke episodes are possible throughout the weekend.
Sensitive groups include older adults, those with respiratory or heart disease, and children. The health impacts of the smoke can be reduced by limiting prolonged outdoor exertion until air quality conditions improve.
Real-time maps of air quality and information about the air quality index can be found on EPA’s airnow.gov site. A graphic approximation of the extent and trajectory of the smoke plume can be seen on the map at https://fire.airnow.gov/