Smoke from wildfires in Canada forecast to cause poor air quality in Berks Wednesday

Smoky skies moved into Berks County Tuesday evening, resulting in adverse effects on air quality. The cause is from raging wildfires in Quebec, Canada, which are producing extensive smoke plumes being directed into the Northeast due to prevailing wind currents.

As the smell of smoke and hazy conditions increased into the night, the Berks County Department of Emergency Services issued an advisory to residents. “We are aware of a general condition of smoke/haze across the county and worse to the North. This is caused by wildfire conditions in Canada” said in a Facebook post.

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“Berks 9-1-1 is seeing approx a call every 30s reporting this, and we simply cannot send the fire departments to every call. We know it is a tough call, but we would ask that residents please avoid making these general reports unless there is a reason to believe there is a local source of the smoke/odor.”

Check current conditions here:

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has declared a Code Red Air Quality Action Day throughout the entire Commonwealth for fine particulate matter.

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Pennsylvania residents should limit their outdoor activities. Children, sensitive populations such as older people, those who exercise or work outdoors and those with lung or respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, or bronchitis should avoid prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.

Smoke due to wildfires in eastern Canada will likely contribute to daily average concentrations of fine particulate matter in the Code Red range on Wednesday, with areas farther east experiencing worse air quality, possibly into Code Purple ranges. For areas in Code Purple, all residents should limit outdoor exertion, and sensitive populations should avoid all outdoor exertion.

Residents are encouraged to limit their time outdoors but do not need to shelter in place. Pets and other animals should be kept indoors.

The weather pattern pushing the smoke from wildfires in eastern Quebec is forecast to continue until Friday for most of Pennsylvania. DEP will continue to update the forecast to determine ongoing needs for Air Quality Alerts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Air Quality Index (AQI) provides standardized color codes for forecasting and reporting daily air quality. Green signifies good air quality; Yellow means moderate air quality; Orange represents unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive groups of people; and Red warns of unhealthy pollution levels for all.

An Air Quality Action Day is declared when the AQI is forecasted to be Code Orange or higher. On an Air Quality Action Day, young children, the elderly, and those with respiratory problems, such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and should limit outdoor activities.

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