Philly air quality forecast: “Code Orange” issued for portions Southwest Pennsylvania Sunday

A smokey haze covers the Center City skyline from the 63rd and Market Station due to the Canadian wildfires that’s covering much of the Northeast in Philadelphia, Pa., on Wednesday, June, 7 2023.
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A low-end air quality alert has been issued for Sunday, although not quite to the degree it has been the past week.

Some areas in Southwest Pennsylvania are in a “Code Orange,” as particulate matter and ground-level ozone, mixed with the hot weather Sunday can trigger it to sit around the area, CBS Philadelphia Meteorologist Tammie Souza said.

A “Code Orange” means the air is unhealthy for sensitive grounds, including those with preexisting conditions, the elderly, young children and pregnant women. Anyone with breathing problems is recommended to stay inside Sunday until the air can clear up.

Winds from the south are pushing air from the south and southeast towards the Philadelphia area, bringing in wildfire smoke from two New Jersey fires, Souza said.

The alert does not include Delaware, South Jersey or the Shore.

Chemicals from the I-95 fire smoke plume are also impacting the air quality in northern Philadelphia. Winds are blowing off to the north, which is carrying the smoke toward the north and east. The fire is adding dangerous chemicals — such as acids, sulfates and nitrates —   into the air, which are very dangerous to breathe in. Particulate matter, such as metals, soot, dust, tar and oil, are also posing air quality concerns.  

Meteorologist Tammie Souza said you may notice a greasy, oily film on things from the huge smoke plume. If you’re to the north or east, Souza said it is recommended to stay indoors, as the region was also expected to already have unhealthy air quality levels Sunday due to smoke from the Canadian wildfire that we have been experiencing all week.

The air quality is expected to improve throughout the afternoon and into Monday.

Last week, heavy smoke in the air from the Canadian wildfires prompted several air quality alerts as the AQI reached well into the 400s at some points. Much of that has since moved out of the Philadelphia region but some continues to move in.  

Source: CBS News