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Vermont's Air Quality Alert Extended, Then Canceled, With Haze From Western Fires

A bright pink sun hangs over mountains and trees
Ames Robb
/
Courtesy
The view of Mount Hunger from Duxbury on Monday, July 26 at sunrise.

Updated 10:35 a.m. 7/27/2021

For the second time in two weeks, Vermonters noticed strange skies over much of the state on Monday. Hazy fog obscured mountains, and the sun shone a striking pink.

An air quality alert issued by state officials through the National Weather Service on Monday, July 26 was initially extended through Tuesday, the 27th, as fine particulates from fires in Manitoba, Canada filled the sky. The alert was then canceled Tuesday morning.

"Air quality improved to 'moderate' particulate matter concentrations overnight, thankfully, and is not expected to return to unhealthy levels again today," said Bennet Leon, who’s with the Air Quality & Climate Division at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

On Monday, the conditions extended from the Rutland area through the Northeast Kingdom. Originally, Tuesday's alert had applied to Bennington and Windham counties.

In most of the affected areas, air quality was categorized as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

“There [was] a health concern for elderly people and children, [and] people with respiratory ailments,” Leon said.

In other areas, air quality was categorized as “unhealthy,” which means all people should take note before doing outdoor activities, particularly strenuous ones.

Wildfires out west caused similar conditions a week ago. Leon told VPR at the time that it’s unusual to see elevated pollution levels in Vermont from fires burning so far away.

“We often see... smoke from wildfires pass over Vermont at high altitudes that don’t affect the air quality down near the surface where people are breathing,” he said.

VPR's Reed Nye contributed reporting.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Anna Van Dine @annasvandine.

Updated: July 27, 2021 at 10:36 AM EDT
This post was updated with new information about state officials canceling the air quality alert Tuesday morning.
Updated: July 26, 2021 at 8:48 PM EDT
This post has been updated with the specific counties impacted by the extension of an air quality alert.
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