Delmarva experiences orange air quality level from western U.S. fires

SALISBURY, Md. – The EPA and local agencies like the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control are warning those with sensitive lungs to stay indoors as smoke from wildfires in California and Oregon makes its way to the east coast.

The air quality index score rose to 120 out of 200, pushing regulators to issue an orange alert for those who already have lung problems. The higher that score goes, the harder it becomes for more people to breathe.

“The alert today was unhealthy for sensitive groups based on the amount of particulate coming from wildfires in the western United States and Canada,” said DNREC Director of Air Quality Angela Marconi.

47ABC Meteorologist Sloane Haines has tracked the smoke as it traveled across the US in whats known as a jet stream, depositing the harmful particles from the fire to the east coast.

“On Monday the smoke was really up higher in the atmosphere now we see it mixing lower interacting with us but it’s large quantities of smoke,” Haines said.

Doctors on the eastern shore say that’s when those particles drop to lower altitudes, they can cause damage to the lungs to the lungs can take place. Tidal Health told 47ABC they have already seen patients come in with trouble breathing.

“These can irritate your lungs make it harder for you to breath accelerates lung damage so what we are really recommending is when the air quality index is going up stay indoors,” said Tidal Health Emergency Services Director Dr. Glenn Hornstein. 

The DNREC says as climate change escalates, people should be more aware of air quality levels before going outside because where there’s fire, isn’t the only place there’s smoke.

“The size of these fires is big that there’s so much smoke and particulate matter going into the air that’s it’s able to be transported such long distances,” Marconi said, adding “Air pollution doesn’t respect borders.”

Hornstein believes the best way to protect against the conditions is to avoid strenuous outdoor activity like exercise for sensitive groups including children and seniors.

He says the best thing to do if your lungs are already sensitive, is to be smart and continue to take prescribed medication.

“Take your medications, people that are already at risk if you have congestive heart failure, COPD, emphysema, take your medication,” he said.

Categories: Delaware, Health, Local News, Maryland, Virginia