Code Orange alerts remain in air quality forecast

Code Orange alerts remain in air quality forecast

North Carolina residents should continue to exercise caution while outside on Thursday due to smoke and fine particle pollution from Canadian wildfires.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) and the Forsyth County Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection are issuing a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for the entire state for Thursday, June 8.

The Code Red Air Quality Action Alert that was in effect for central NC on Wednesday has been replaced with a Code Orange alert for the remainder of the day.

Code Orange on the Air Quality index represents unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups. Older adults, younger children and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma should limit prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.

The alerts signal the potential for health impacts from significantly elevated levels of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5. PM2.5 is comprised of particles smaller than the width of a human hair. These particles can reach deep in the lungs and aggravate asthma and other lung conditions and have been linked to heart conditions.

Smoke and accompanying high levels of PM2.5 started to be carried downwind from Canada into North Carolina on Tuesday, leading to levels in the Code Red range overnight and early on Wednesday. Since then, PM2.5 levels have lowered significantly, but may remain in the Code Orange level Thursday.

Our meteorologists will reevaluate the conditions on Thursday ahead of releasing Friday’s air quality forecast. Smoky conditions may persist through Friday, but a low-pressure system is hoped to move smoke eastward going into the weekend.

DAQ monitors and forecasts ozone and PM2.5 daily using the Air Quality Index (AQI), along with the corresponding AQI color codes, to help North Carolinians plan their outdoor activities. Next-day and extended products are issued by 3 p.m. with a morning update by 10 a.m.

For the latest air quality information, visit the Air Quality Portal online. DEQ’s website has a list of resources for keeping safe around wildfire smoke.