Air Quality Conditions Worsen in Parts of Pennsylvania as Haze From Canadian Wildfires Persists

A person cycles past the skyline in Philadelphia shrouded in haze, Thursday, June 8, 2023. Intense Canadian wildfires are blanketing the northeastern U.S. in a dystopian haze, turning the air acrid, the sky yellowish gray and prompting warnings for vulnerable populations to stay inside. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Ashley Adams

June 8, 2023

A code purple has been issued in parts of eastern Pennsylvania, as intense Canadian wildfires continue to cause serious air quality issues throughout the state.

Poor air quality conditions persisted throughout Pennsylvania into Thursday afternoon, with some areas seeing very unhealthy air condition levels, due to smoke from wildfires in eastern Canada.

Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, and the Susquehanna Valley were all under code purple air conditions, according to the US Air Quality Index. Air quality levels for those areas were expected to drop to red later Thursday and to code yellow on Friday. 

Altoona, Johnstown, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and State College were under code red Thursday, and are expected to drop to code yellow on Friday.

The state Department of Environmental Protection encouraged residents to:

  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activities
  • Keep outdoor activities short
  • Consider moving physical activities indoors or rescheduling them

Experts say if you have to go out, consider wearing an N95 mask to reduce your exposure to pollutants. They recommend vulnerable populations stay inside altogether, and for residents to keep doors, windows and fireplaces shut, and run the air conditioning on a recirculation setting.

Air quality can affect your health, especially people who suffer from heart and lung diseases, including asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, older adults, children and teenagers, people who are pregnant, and people who work outdoors.

Pets should also be kept inside and only taken outside for a limited period of time.

Air Quality Conditions Worsen in Parts of Pennsylvania as Haze From Canadian Wildfires Persists
A map from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection shows air quality levels in the state on Thursday, June 8, 2023. (Pennsylvania DEP)

Skies in Harrisburg and Philadelphia remained hazy early Thursday, though the smell of smoke that was so persistent on Wednesday has dissipated somewhat. Conditions were similar in Berks County and the Lehigh Valley.

The Philadelphia Phillies game scheduled for Wednesday night was postponed until Thursday, and several outdoor events in the city scheduled for the weekend were rescheduled.

Smoke from Canada’s wildfires has been moving into the United States since last month. The most recent fires near Quebec have been burning for at least several days.

The US Environmental Protection Agency said hazy skies, reduced visibility and the odor of burning wood are likely, and that the smoke will linger for a few days in northern states.

Jay Engle, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton, Long Island, said the wind trajectory that allowed smoke and hazy conditions to be seen in the New York City area could continue for the next few days. Of course, he said, the main driver of conditions is the fires themselves. If they diminish, the haze would too.


  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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