Wildfire smoke from western Canada is expected to blow into Maine on Tuesday, resulting in a drop in air quality.

Air quality levels are expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups but are not likely to reach the point where the state would recommend most people stay indoors.

Maine largely avoided smoke from the Canadian fires that caused unhealthy air to cover much of the United States in late June, including much of the East Coast and Midwest, affecting more than 120 million people. There are nearly 900 wildfires burning across Canada, including in Quebec, although the smoke coming into Maine will be from western Canadian provinces Alberta and British Columbia.

“Maine will not be spared this time,” said Martha Webster, air quality meteorologist with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “For most of June, the weather patterns resulted in smoke being blown away from Maine, but now the winds are pushing the smoke into Maine.”

Webster said Tuesday that much of western and northern Maine – as well as Cumberland and York counties – will be in the “orange” category, with air quality levels considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” Midcoast and Down East Maine, including Bangor, are expected to have good air quality Tuesday, as well as people living in high-elevation areas.

For those in “orange” regions, the DEP advises that “people with heart or lung disease, the elderly, teenagers and children should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion. It is okay to be active outside, but take more breaks and do less intense activities.”


People should “watch for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath. Asthmatics should follow their action plans and keep quick relief meds handy. Those with heart disease should watch for palpitations, shortness of breath or unusual fatigue.”

Webster said there is not yet an official smoke forecast for Wednesday – levels are difficult to predict because the smoke is easily pushed around depending on wind patterns. But Webster said she expects that while the smoke will linger Wednesday, the overall air quality will be better than on Tuesday.

Much of the Midwest and Great Plains have already reported unhealthy air quality from the Canadian wildfires in recent days, and the smoke is now starting to enter New England, according to news reports.

Wildfires are also raging in Quebec, according to the Maine DEP, but “winds should keep smoke from these fires away from the northeast for the foreseeable future.”

The air quality forecast can change quickly, so for the latest updates, go to maine.gov/dep/air/aqforecast.

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