Pennsylvania’s Air Quality is ‘Unhealthy’ as Canadian Wildfires Continue to Burn

Haze from Canadian wildfires blankets the downtown Pittsburgh skyline as seen from West End Overlook in Elliott, Pa., Wednesday, June 28, 2023. (Benjamin B. Braun/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

By Patrick Berkery

June 29, 2023

Pittsburgh’s air quality was deemed “very unhealthy” Wednesday, as Canadian wildfires continue to cause serious air quality issues throughout the state. Conditions are expected to improve by the weekend.

The poor air quality conditions that plagued central and eastern Pennsylvania due to smoke from wildfires in eastern Canada earlier this month have returned, this time impacting the entire state.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection declared a statewide Code Red air quality day for Thursday, meaning air quality is considered “unhealthy” for all residents. 

Concentrations of smoke will likely be high throughout the day in western Pennsylvania and increasing throughout the day in eastern Pennsylvania, according to the agency. 

Pennsylvania’s Air Quality is ‘Unhealthy’ as Canadian Wildfires Continue to Burn
Visitors at the Johnstown National Flood Memorial in St. Michael, Pa. spend time checking out the park as the air quality is poor due to the Canadian wild fires on Wednesday, June 28, 2023. (Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat via AP)

The state DEP advises vulnerable individuals to stay inside, and for residents to keep doors, windows and fireplaces shut, and run the air conditioning on a recirculation setting.

Experts say if you have to go out, avoid strenuous activity, limit your time outdoors, and consider wearing an N95 mask to reduce your exposure to pollutants. 

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

Pennsylvania’s Air Quality is ‘Unhealthy’ as Canadian Wildfires Continue to Burn
Haze from Canadian wildfires blankets the downtown Pittsburgh skyline as seen from West End Overlook in Elliott, Pa., Wednesday, June 28, 2023. (Benjamin B. Braun/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Pittsburgh was under a Code Purple Wednesday, as a curtain of haze blanketed the city. Under Code Purple, the air is considered “very unhealthy” for the entire public, not just for those who have sensitivities or illnesses. The Code Purple air quality index is between 201 and 300. Pittsburgh’s air quality index was 226 on Wednesday. As of late Thursday morning, it had dropped to 196, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow.gov site.

As of late Thursday morning, the EPA was projecting some slight relief on Friday by forecasting a Code Orange, throughout the state.

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