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Delaware air quality lowered by Nova Scotia wildfire smoke


DOVER — Nova Scotia never seemed so close as wildfire smoke from the Canadian province about 1,000 miles to the north lowered Delaware’ air quality Thursday.

A review of 11 monitoring stations statewide indicated the ozone layer over Sussex County was most affected.

That was according to Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Division of Air Quality Control Angela Marconi, who said the smoke’s overall impact would lessen overnight then grow during the day.

The smoke was expected to affect Delaware for at least Thursday and Friday, and the state was in an orange category indicating the air was “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

DNREC issued a statement Thursday afternoon that cited wildfires in New Jersey as well:

“Delaware is currently experiencing elevated particulate matter as the result of air pollution transport from wildfires in Nova Scotia and New Jersey.

“Wildfire smoke can affect air quality thousands of miles away. The smoke increases fine particulates in the air, which can be harmful to breathe in high concentrations, particularly for sensitive groups.

“Elevated ozone is also forecast for Thursday and Friday. In consultation with DHSS, DNREC recommends that outdoor events do not need to be canceled but that certain populations including (young children, elderly, those with lung conditions) could be more significantly impacted.

“While cancellation is not necessary, it is advisable to relocate indoors when possible.

“As always, individuals should make health decisions in consultation with their doctors and based on their own needs.”

A DNREC forecast read:

“Saturday, moderate and gusty easterly winds will enhance dispersion and transport cleaner air into the region as a cold front moves across Delaware.
“In addition, increasing clouds will hinder ozone formation, leading to low-Moderate Air Quality Index levels.”

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The biggest concern is for the elderly and young children, along with those with breathing difficulties such as asthma, Ms. Marconi said.

“We always advise people to make sure that they have medications that they might need and consult with their doctors,” she said.

“They can look at the data and make decisions for their own health and that can include deciding to not participate in outdoor activities, or what kind of day to participate in outdoor activities depending on what air quality looks like out there.”

The Milford School District announced today it would provide a viewing area for graduation ceremonies inside the Milford High auditorium. The ceremony at Briggs Stadium was scheduled to proceed as planned, the district said.

The district pointed to the Delaware Division of Air Quality’s updated index to orange, “indicating members of sensitive groups may experience health effects while outdoors; however, the general public is less likely to be affected.”

Also, the district announced it was limiting outside activities for all schools “and has taken precautions with our building air systems to limit outside air into school facilities. “

The district said it would continued to monitor the situation and seek guidance from state agencies regarding the outdoor graduation event.

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