RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — If you notice yourself coughing more than usual this week, you’re not alone. Smoke from Canadian wildfires has spread and is impacting states throughout the Midwest and the South, including Virginia.
Here is what you should know about the smoke, when it will clear and how to keep yourself healthy in the meantime.
What is causing the smoke?
This smoke is from Canadian wildfires, particularly from fires in the province of Quebec, which is just north of New York, according to WSYR-TV in New York.
While New York and Connecticut are seeing the worst air quality as a result of the fires, it is also impacting much of the Midwest, as well as more southern states like Kentucky and Virginia.
What is air quality?
The estimated air quality index (AQI) describes how clean the air is and if any health issues may arise from particle pollution in the air. The air quality index is measured on a scale of 0 to 500, with 0 being very good and 500 being extremely hazardous.
As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, air quality in Central Virginia and metro Richmond was ranging from unhealthy for sensitive groups to unhealthy for all people. The air quality in Richmond was measured at 175, which is considered unhealthy for all people.
People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children are all considered “sensitive groups” and are most at risk for health problems from poor air quality.
AQI is monitored by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and a live map of air quality throughout the state is available on the organization’s website.
How long will the smoke last?
Code RED air quality alerts will remain in effect for Central Virginia through Thursday and into Friday.
StormTracker8 will be providing daily updates both online and on-air as we look for changes in air quality throughout the week and into the weekend.
How can you stay healthy?
While the air quality remains bad, it is recommended people stay inside when possible and run an air filter inside their homes. If you have to go out, wear a mask, especially an N-95 or P-100.
People should also avoid strenuous activities, like running, or anything that will further make it hard to breathe, like smoking, according to the American Lung Association.