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Smoke from Canadian wildfires to create haze during Running With Ed

The Oquirrh Mountains behind Salt Lake City.
Adobe Stock
Haze in the Salt Lake Valley

People sensitive to particle pollution are advised to be cautious this weekend. Smoke from Canadian wildfires has pushed its way down into Utah.

Just in time for Running With Ed, when much of Summit County will be huffing and puffing, the air quality index will be worse than normal.

The smoke is coming from Canada which has been plagued with widespread wildfires.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Michael Wessler said there’s been a light snowpack and extremely warm weather in Canada this year.

The resulting forest fires created smoke that’s been carried south by northwesterly winds.

“So that's been the heaviest in Montana, but we've seen that smoke creep as far south as central Utah,” Wessler said.

The National Weather Service says the smoke will create moderate air quality concerns Friday, Saturday and possibly into next week. An air quality alert is in place for one nearby area, Uinta County in Wyoming, where the air quality will be poor.

Ashley Sumner, with the Utah Division of Air Quality, said moderate air quality concerns mainly affect people who have chronic heart and lung conditions.

The type of particulate matter she said air quality monitors look for from forest fires is called PM25, because the particles are 2.5 micrograms.

“Which is a small percentage of the width of a piece of hair,” Sumner said. “So it's incredibly small.”

Particles that small can get from the lungs into the bloodstream, which is why they’re a concern for sensitive populations.

But moderate air quality concerns will not cause major issues for people without chronic conditions.

“What we really want people to do is listen to their bodies [and] stay aware of the conditions,” Sumner said.

Sumner says the air quality can be checked in real time at fire.airnow.gov and on the UtahAir app.