🔴 Canadian wildfire smoke is back in the air over New Jersey

🔴 Western counties in New Jersey are under a Code Red air quality alert

🔴 500 fires are burning across Canada


The DEP upgraded its air quality alert for parts of New Jersey to Code Red for nine counties Thursday while the rest of the state remains at Code Orange.

The air quality alerts are in effect until midnight on Thursday as smoke from over 500 Canadian wildfires has returned to the air over New Jersey and concentrations of upwind continue to increase. Western New Jersey counties will be affected the most,  experiencing levels in the unhealthy range.

Particles in the air are tiny enough to get deep into the lungs and cause short-term problems like coughing and itchy eyes and in the long run, can affect the lungs and heart.

The counties under the Code Red alert are northwestern Burlington County and all of Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex, Mercer, Sussex and Warren countries. Code Orange remains in effect for the rest of the state.

Basics for Ozone and Particle Pollution
Basics for Ozone and Particle Pollution (Canva)

Both mean that air quality may approach or exceed unhealthy standards. Sensitive members of the public – including those with heart or lung disease, the elderly and young people – may experience health effects, should remain indoors when possible and avoid strenuous activity. If you have to go outside consider wearing a mask.

At this point, the air is not nearly as unhealthy as it was in May but you may notice some haze and air quality issues, according to New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow. The thickest plumes will stay to the west.

Canadian officials say it is the nation’s worst wildfire season ever and they expect air quality to remain a concern through the summer, as long as the fires continue.

It started early on drier-than-usual ground and accelerated very quickly, exhausting firefighting resources across the country, fire and environmental officials said.

Environment and Climate Change Canada Meteorologist Steven Flisfeder said smoke will drift across Quebec and Ontario over the next few days, and that air quality will deteriorate as a result.

“As long as the fires are burning and the smoke is in the atmosphere it is going to be a concern not just for Canadians but Americans as well,” Flisfeder said.

(Includes material copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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