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June 29, 2023

Philly air quality should improve Thursday night and Friday; currently 'unhealthy'

The city closed all its pools on Thursday as it experiences a Code Red alert. A sea breeze could better the air quality Thursday night, and expected weekend rain should also help

Health News Pollution
Air quality unhealthy Brian A. Saunders/Phillyvoice

Smoke persists over Philadelphia on Thursday as the Canadian wildfires continue to burn. The air quality in Philadelphia is considered 'unhealthy' for all residents, though conditions are expected to improve Thursday night.

For the second straight day, the entire state of Pennsylvania was issued a Code Red alert by the Department of Environmental Protection due to ongoing smoke from wildfires in Canada.

The persistent haze in Philadelphia has been deemed "unhealthy" for all, according to the National Weather Service. But a sea breeze may help the air quality improve Thursday night, and weekend rain should quell the issue.

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

Delaware also has a Code Red alert, while New Jersey's air quality is slightly better with a Code Orange. 

At 11:30 a.m., the air quality index in Philadelphia was 183, according to Air Now.

The city shut down all public pools on Thursday, and all other staff-led youth programs at Parks & Rec sites were moved indoors. 

Though they are still allowed, the city has also recommended that residents cancel outdoor events.

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

If people must go outside, they are advised to wear a mask, preferably a KN-95 mask. This week, free masks can be picked up at resource hubs at Bethany Baptist Church, Mi Salud Wellness Center, Whitman Plaza and the Shoppes at LaSalle. Each hub's hours of operation are available online.

Alex Dodd, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said he expects improvement in Philadelphia's air quality Thursday night.

"There is a bit of sea breeze projected to come in later today that may help us later this evening, overnight and into tomorrow morning, Friday. But as far as the rest of today goes, I don't see a whole lot of improvement," Dodd said.

"It's possible this afternoon, with a little more mixing winds, the air quality may not be quite as poor as this morning, but (today) I don't expect too much change."

Dodd said expected rain this weekend should vastly improve the air quality. 

Air quality is measured by a color-coded index ranging from 0-500. Good air quality is 0-50 and is green; 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. 

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