Due to a unique weather pattern, Philadelphia continues to be affected by smoke from the wildfires in Canada. The smoke grew worse in the Philadelphia region on Tuesday evening. Residents in the area should take precautions to avoid unnecessary exposure to smoke and avoid activities that may increase the amount of particulate matter in the air. The Health Department recommends doing the following to protect yourself and your family from poor air quality during a Code Orange Fine Particle Action Day:
- Avoid going outdoors as much as possible.
- If you must go outside, avoid excessive activity, such as jogging or running, and wear a mask, if available.
- Close all windows and doors to minimize air pollution in your home.
- Recirculate air with fans to avoid bringing more air pollution into your home.
- Avoid areas of high congestion and where air pollution may be high (e.g., main streets or highways, areas with low circulation).
- People with underlying illnesses should monitor for symptoms, including trouble breathing, nausea, and dizziness. If these symptoms occur, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
The air may be hazardous for all residents but is especially dangerous for sensitive groups, including children, elderly people, pregnant women, and those with respiratory diseases or heart conditions.
To help reduce the amount of pollution in the city, residents are asked to:
- Avoid unnecessary trips in their cars,
- Avoid idling,
- Carpool when possible, and
- Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.
Residents are also advised to monitor the situation and change their behaviors based on the amount of smoke in the air. The Health Department publishes real-time air pollution readings at https://www.phila.gov/aqi.
Wildfire smoke contains fine particles, also called PM 2.5. This is one of the pollutants that the Health Department monitors during large fires in Philadelphia. PM 2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated. PM 2.5 refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one-half microns or less in width. The widths of the larger particles in the PM 2.5 size range would be about thirty times smaller than that of human hair. PM 2.5 can be dangerous because if you inhale it, the particles are so small they can go deep into your lungs.
The Health Department and the Office of Emergency Management will continue to monitor the air quality and provide updates as they become available. For more information, please visit the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management Twitter account, the Health Department’s Twitter account, and register to receive emergency alerts via ReadyPhiladelphia by texting READYPHILA to 888-777 or visiting https://www.phila.gov/ready.