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Vermont issues air quality warning due to wildfire haze

 A photo of a field and mountains with an orange, hazy sky.
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
Hazy skies hang over Underhill on Monday, June 5.

Hazy skies and clouds have enveloped northern Vermont over the past few days, as wildfires blaze miles north in Quebec.

Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources issued an Air Quality Alert Monday afternoon, saying at-risk groups should take caution amid the poor air quality.

Sensitive groups include those with heart and lung disease, older adults, as well as young children and teens.

David Grass, the environmental health senior program manager at the Vermont Department of Health, says those with asthma should also be aware of the increased risks.

“Poor air quality can act as a trigger that can lead to people experiencing an asthma attack,” Grass said.

You can minimize your exposure to wildfire smoke by staying indoors, closing the windows and running an air filter. Limiting outdoor activities and reducing exercise intensity are also key ways to decrease risk, according to Grass.

“If you do start experiencing symptoms, that's probably a good signal that it's time to take a break or maybe just wrap things up and head inside,” said Grass.

Bennet Leon, the planning section chief at the Agency of Natural Resources says everyone should pay attention to their health when poor air quality is present.

“It's possible that anybody could experience symptoms, so just monitor oneself and adjust if you’re feeling poorly,” Leon said.

Dr. Gil Allen, a pulmonary disease doctor at the University of Vermont Medical Center, echoed Leon's point.

"It's been found that this particulate matter inhalation from smoke and pollution and other types of micro particulate matter can increase risk of mortality from stroke and heart attacks," Allen said. "This isn't just about people with intrinsic lung disease."

The haze and smoke shouldn’t continue for much longer, says Adrianna Kremer, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Burlington.

“So yesterday, and today, were going to probably be the worst of it,” said Kremer. “Hopefully by tomorrow, most of the smoke should have lifted from the region.”

Grass also highlighted that people experiencing homelessness in Vermont are more likely to be impacted by the poor air quality.

“The primary action that we tell people in order to protect themselves from wildfire smoke is to go inside,” said Grass. “And obviously, someone who's experiencing homelessness might not have [those] options.”

With Vermont’s motel housing program coming to an end, over a thousand people are set to lose their housing in the coming months. Grass said poor air quality and potential extreme heat are weather events that most impact those without shelter.

Both are weather impacts made worse by climate change, as extreme weather events become more common across North America.

“It's just an important opportunity for us to think about being welcoming and accommodating to people who are experiencing homelessness,” he said.

For current air quality and risk levels, visit

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