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Wildfire Season Impacting Air Quality In South Dakota

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DANR South Dakota
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Air Quality Map

Wildfires are striking up in western states. The smoke from those fires can affect air quality across the country.    

Air quality is measured on a scale of 0 to 500. As the number increases, air quality is worse and there’s more impact on human health.  Anything above 100 is considered harmful to those with respiratory issues. Above 300 is harmful to the general population. 

The state air quality index shows the worst air quality is in northeastern South Dakota. It’s registering in the 80s in towns like Aberdeen and Watertown. 

Mike Hansen is a pulmonologist for Monument Health in Rapid City. He says air quality now is not a concern- but that can change.  

“If it’s above 100, especially those with asthma or COPD, they can take precautionary measures to avoid the air,” he said.  

Hansen also says people should consider a mask to protect from small particle pollutants.  

He said, “It’s not going to be 100 percent effective, but it would be effective against one of the components of air quality being particulate matter. But it’s not going to protect against inhaling the other 4 aspects like the carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ground-level ozones.” 

According to the Fire, Weather, and Avalanche center, there are 3 active fires in South Dakota. Tesmond Hurd is the executive director for the center. He thinks this wildfire season is far from over. 

“As I think as we get into August when rain gets more or less prevalent, we’ll see some bigger fires going on,” he said. 

If air quality gets worse, Hurd and Hansen both suggest that people with respiratory issues should stay inside. Hansen also says air purifiers can help filter indoor air.