Newtown-Area Smoke Could Last Into Weekend

Bucks County gained the troubling distinction of having some of the air quality in the entire world.

Credit: Tom Sofield/

Smoke from more than 150 wildfires burning in the Canadian province of Quebec will continue to blow through the area.

Forecasters said Thursday the smoke smell and haze in the sky could last through the weekend.

Air quality alerts were issued in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and other states.

Officials urged people to stay inside if possible due to the poor air quality.

“The highest concentrations of smoke should be dissipating through the morning hours and into the afternoon across the region. However late this evening, we anticipate the haze and smoke to become more dense,” forecasters from the National Weather Service’s local office said Thursday morning.

“Conditions are likely to remain unhealthy, at least until the wind direction changes or the fires get put out,” National Weather Service meteorologist Bryan Ramsey told WHYY News. “Since the fires are raging — they’re really large — they’re probably going to continue for weeks. But it’s really just going be all about the wind shift.”

The National Weather Service warned that the smoke condition could cause headaches, irritated eyes and sinuses, fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest pains, asthma attack, irritation of the throat, and increased coughing.

“Many of us really enjoy spending time outside, however, while the smoke from Canadian wildfires is affecting our air quality, we need to consider moving physical activities indoors or rescheduling them,” said Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Debra Bogen. “For the next day or two, I encourage people to limit time outside, especially if you are sensitive to poor air quality.”

On Wednesday night, Bucks County gained the troubling distinction of having some of the worst air quality in the entire world.

The smoke led to Bucks County’s 9-1-1 center receiving more than 120 calls for smoke conditions in the first two days of the smoke event.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health issued the below tips to the public:

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

Tips to help keep particle pollution lower indoors:

•   Don’t use candles or smoke indoors. 
•   Keep windows and doors closed.
•   If you have an air filter in your home, now is a good time to use it.
•   Clean or replace filters according to manufacturer recommendations.
•   If you don’t have one and want to make your own portable air cleaner designed to reduce particles indoors, the EPA offers DIY information.  

Air quality can affect your health, especially people who may be at greater risk, including: 

•   People with heart disease
•   People with lung disease, including asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
•   Older adults
•   Children and teenagers because their lungs are still developing, and they breathe more air relative to their size
•   People who are pregnant
•   People who work outdoors

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