City Cast

Smoke Is In the Air

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on June 8   |   Updated on June 15
Visibility is limited in D.C. due to smoke today. (@ChuckBell4/Twitter)

Visibility is limited in D.C. due to smoke today. (@ChuckBell4/Twitter)

D.C.’s air quality reached code red yesterday, with the index breaching 200 in some areas. TLDR: That’s very high.

Wildfires in Canada are sending down smoke into the Northeast, causing hazy skies across the DMV. The smokey conditions are unhealthy for everyone, but especially for people with respiratory concerns. “We haven’t seen something like this, with smoke [at] ground level, in over 10 years,” 7News Meteorologist Eileen Whelan told WTOP.

What does code red mean?

The Air Quality Index (AQI) runs from 0 to 500. The higher the value, the greater the level of air pollution. Typically, the air in D.C. is under 50. Anything above 100 is considered unhealthy. Track the air quality in your neighborhood here.

Is D.C. doing anything about it? 

DC Public Schools canceled all outdoor activities, including recess, gym, sports, and outdoor field trips due to poor air quality. Later this month, the city is launching a pilot program using mobile air quality monitors to map block-by-block air quality in the most polluted neighborhoods in the city.

How do I protect myself?

IQAir recommends limiting your time outdoors and closing your windows, especially if you have respiratory concerns. If you have an air filter, use it, or switch your A/C to the recirculate function to limit outdoor particles. You can also wear a tight-fitting mask such as an N95 to filter out pollutants. Unfortunately, surgical and cloth masks won’t help much here, so break out the big guns.

How long will this last?

Possible storms tomorrow could finally improve the air quality, but it all depends on the direction of the wind and the severity of the storms. So, maybe reconsider that backpacking trip this weekend.

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