Parts of Bennington and Windham counties were placed under an air quality alert Tuesday due to wildfire smoke from the western U.S. and Canada, according to the National Weather Service.
The wildfire smoke has led to an elevated concentration of particle pollution in the air, which can be “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” states the alert attributed to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
It says the groups most at risk of fine particulate matter are children and the elderly, as well as people with heart or lung disease. They are advised to reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
“Exposure to elevated levels of fine particles such as wild fire smoke can increase the likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, or aggravate heart or lung disease,” reads the alert.
It covers areas including Stamford, Bennington, Woodford State Park, Pownal, Stratton, Londonderry, Brattleboro, Guilford Center, West Brattleboro and Bellows Falls. It remains in effect until midnight Tuesday.
The weather out West has been very hot and dry in the past couple of weeks, conditions that are favorable to wildfires, said Meteorologist Michael Main, of the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y. This has apparently sparked wildfires in the western parts of the U.S. and Canada.
“The smoke has actually made its way to our region,” Main said, and this resulted in thicker smoke on Tuesday morning that triggered the alert. It is the first air quality alert due to wildfire smoke this year, he said. Such events more commonly happen between summer to early fall.
The smoke is expected to start dissipating on Tuesday night as a cold front moves in, bringing rain showers and thunderstorms through Wednesday.