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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Media Center
DATE: May 31, 2010
CONTACT: Kathleen Brockett (603) 271-6284 or (603) 491-0749 (cell)
Jeff Underhill (603) 271-1102 or (603) 419-0330 (cell)

Canadian Forest Fires Affecting Air Quality throughout New Hampshire
State Declares Air Quality Action Day
Unhealthy Air Pollution Levels Predicted Today

Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) is expecting air pollution concentrations to approach unhealthy levels for sensitive individuals in many areas of the state today due to fine particle pollution, a major component of the smoke from Canadian forest fires.

DES officials are calling for an Air Quality Action Day and advise sensitive individuals to take precautions to protect their health by reducing prolonged or heavy exertion. Sensitive individuals include children, older adults, and anyone with heart or lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. Even healthy individuals may experience mild health effects and should consider limiting strenuous or prolonged activities. In addition to harmful health effects, fine particle pollution in the smoke may create hazy conditions that reduce visibility.

The expected unhealthy air quality is due to a northwest flow of air that is bringing the smoke from over 60 wild fires burning in Quebec into New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine today. Conditions are expected to improve on Monday as the wind direction shifts, resulting in cleaner air in the region. Additional air quality notices will be issued if weather conditions return and smoke from the fires blows into the region again.

Symptoms of particle pollution exposure for people with heart disease may include chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue. People with existing lung diseases may not be able to breathe as deeply or vigorously as normal and may experience symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath. The severity of the health effects increases as fine particle concentrations in-crease. The smell of smoke may also be evident to some individuals, as well as a noticeable haze.

For further information, contact DES at (603) 271-1370. For air quality forecasts and current air pollution levels in New Hampshire, call 1-800-935-SMOG or visit the DES website at

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NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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