Wildfire Smoke Coming into Maine

David Macek Checking the Air Mass Concentration
David Macek Checking the Air Mass Concentration(N/A)
Updated: Sep. 7, 2023 at 6:25 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Over the past few days Air quality warnings have been issued for Northern Maine. Smoke from both the Western wildfires and from the few remaining wildfires in Northern Quebec has been drifting into Maine, forcing some residents with breathing problems to remain indoors.

Air Quality Meteorologist with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection Martha Webster said, “When that smoke began moving its way to Maine Tuesday evening levels were much higher than we expected and actually, there was an hour or two that were even above the unhealthy for sensitive groups range. In the end, the numbers came in for the unhealthy for sensitive groups range on Wednesday for Northern Maine and also on-site in the Portland area.”

Environmental specialist for the Mi’kmaq Nation David Macek said, “It’s been one of the longest durations. Higher levels that we have had since we’ve been monitoring here. We’ve started monitoring since 2004.”

The long durations and the high level of bad air quality cause a higher risk of health problems for everyone.

Macek said, “A good air concentration is below 12. And you can see currently the mass concentration is 24.5.”

Macek said, on Tuesday the level was at 30. Until the air quality mass concentration gets back into the lower numbers both Webster and Macek suggest folks avoid strenuous exercises while outside.

Webster said, “What most people don’t realize is healthy adults who are exerting themselves are a sensitive group and that’s because they’re breathing more deeply their respiration rate increases because they are inhaling more deeply and that is going to increase the amount of air and there for the amount of population that they are bringing into their lungs.”

Neither can say for sure when the smoke will fully clear out but they are watching the air quality data closely.

Webster said, “Smoke can be very hard to clear out so my thought is it’s going to take a frontal passage an air mass change to really fully clean it out.”

Webster does encourage people to go online to enviroflash.info and sign up to receive emails that will tell you what the air quality level will be a day ahead of time.