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June 28, 2023

Another air quality alert issued in Pa. due to more smoke from Canadian wildfires

The polluted air is expected to linger in Philly, across the state and parts of New Jersey on Thursday and Friday, the National Weather Service says

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Air quality alert Jon Tuleya/PhillyVoice

Haze caused by smoke from the Canadian wildfires filled the air in Pennsylvania, causing a Code Red alert across the state. Pictured above is Philadelphia several weeks ago when the air quality reached hazardous levels.

A Code Red was issued across Pennsylvania Wednesday by the Department of Environmental Protection due to lingering smoke in the air from Canadian wildfires. A Code Orange was issued for New Jersey.

As happened earlier this month, the DEP said the air quality worsened overnight as smoke pushed south from the Great Lakes region. The smoke is expected to linger in the air in Philadelphia and across Pa. and N.J. on Thursday and Friday.

MORE: What are the health risks of wildfire smoke? Here's how to limit your exposure

Young children, older adults, those who are immunocompromised and sufferers of asthma, emphysema and bronchitis are advised to stay indoors. 

"When the air quality gets into the red category, it's recommended that most people limit their outdoor exposure, heavier, longer duration activities, (and) don't do any sort of excessive exercise or work all day outdoors," said National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Dodd. "It's still safe to go outside for most people, but they should limit their duration and the extent that they breathe in the air. However, sensitive groups with asthma conditions or heart or lung problems should try to limit their exposure to the air."

The DEP says this is because of atmospheric inversion, which keeps smoke-filled air closer to the ground and prevents air from higher elevations from mixing with that ground air.

Although the air quality is "unhealthy," Dodd says it will not reach the levels it did earlier this month when Philadelphia experienced hazardous air quality from the Canadian wildfires.

The National Weather Service expects a Code Orange alert for Pa. Thursday, which means some people with health risks may be affected while the general public is less likely to be. 

U.S. air quality is measured by a fine particulate matter index from 0-500 by the EPA. Good air quality is green and is in the 0-50 range; 51-100 is yellow and is okay but can be risky for people with health issues. Orange is 101-150 and is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Red is 151-200 and is when healthy people may become compromised. Purple is 201-300 and increases health risks for everyone. Maroon is 301-500 and is the unhealthiest air quality. 

At 11 a.m. today, Philadelphia's air quality was 121.

Dodd said the forecast predicts rain this weekend which will clean and improve the air quality.

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