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Fires’ haze settles over valley

  • Robbie Williams, left, and Betsy Williams ride their weekly circuit up Route 12A back to their Plainfield, N.H., home through the haze from western wildfire smoke that settled over the Upper Valley on Monday, July 26, 2021. The AirNow U.S. Air Quality Index reached 158 and Vermont and New Hampshire officials recommended people limit outdoor exposure to the unhealthy levels of pollutants. The Williamses said the air did not bother them on their ride, aside from the humidity. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — James M. Patterson

  • Dave Taylor put on a mask while working in the yard around his Plainfield, N.H., home after a neighbor stopped to warn him and his wife Sue that the air quality index had reached 158 locally, indicating an unhealthy level of pollutants on Monday, July 26, 2021. Vermont and New Hampshire officials recommended people limit outdoor exposure as smoke from wildfires in the western United States and Canada settled over the Upper Valley. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Staff and wire report
Published: 7/26/2021 9:50:46 PM
Modified: 7/26/2021 9:50:49 PM

WEST LEBANON — Fine-particle air pollution concentrations have reached unhealthy levels across Vermont and New Hampshire for people with lung diseases and those who are active outdoors as smoke from wildfires in the West and Canada reaches the area, environmental officials said Monday.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and the Vermont Air Quality Climate Division said people should take precautions through Tuesday by limiting prolonged outdoor exertion.

Current wind patterns are transporting waves of smoke from fires in the west and parts of Canada across much of the country, including Vermont and New Hampshire.

By Monday evening, the air quality in the Lebanon area measured 158, in the “unhealthy” range, according to the federal government’s AirNow U.S. Air Quality Index website.

The smoke plumes also diffract light, causing a hazy appearance in the sky and reducing visibility of distant objects, the New Hampshire DES said.

Sensitive individuals include children, older adults and anyone with lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis.

Some residents in the Twin States said they noticed the problem.

“I’d describe it as a burnt, acrid smell,” said Thetford resident Stuart Blood, who said it was irritating his sinuses, though he does not have a pre-existing condition.

“It’s quite pronounced. And I think that it’s increased in the last hour or so. It’s very hazy. The sky is milky. I’d say that the visibility, it’s not quite like a fog, but it’s a distinct decrease in visibility in my yard.”

Blood, who is active in campaigning against climate change, said “it’s really unsettling” to see the impact.

“I think there’s a pretty clear connection between our changing climate and the smoke that’s affecting us here now. Even though we aren’t having fires here, the fires out West are affecting me directly now,” said Blood, who planned to delay a bike ride because of the poor air quality from the smoke.

The air quality is expected to improve on Wednesday as the wind is forecast to move the smoke plumes out of the area.

Staff writer Claire Potter and the Associated Press contributed to this report.




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