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UPDATED: Local air quality reaches Code Red level as wildfire smoke thickens

(Updated at noon) Air quality measurements have exceeded Code Red levels in the D.C. area, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

It’s no surprise to anyone who can see and smell the smoke outside. The thick haze has been wafting into the region from the north, amid severe wildfires in Canada.

The Council of Government says it expects tomorrow to be a Code Red day as well.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) has issued a Code Red Air Quality Health Advisory for the metropolitan Washington region. Current air quality conditions have reached Code Red, unhealthy levels for everyone. In addition, tomorrow, June 8, is currently forecast to be a Code Red day.

The region has experienced 6 Code Orange days (unhealthy for sensitive groups) so far this year, and no Code Red days until today.

Smoke coming from fires in Quebec, Canada is contributing to the increased levels of fine particle pollution.

COG advises the following health precautions:

  • Everyone may experience health effects and should limit outdoor activity.
  • Members of sensitive groups like individuals with respiratory and heart ailments, emphysema, asthma, or chronic bronchitis may experience more serious health effects.

Residents can check current air quality conditions and the forecast on COG’s website or by downloading a free air quality app from COG’s Clean Air Partners program.

Air quality levels (via Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments)

Among other impacts, at least one Arlington elementary school postponed a planned outdoor field day due to the unhealthy air. And, just before noon, Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation cancelled all outdoor programs.

It’s not only people who are being urged to stay inside. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is reminding residents to keep their pets inside as well.

As of 11 a.m., as pointed out by a reader on social media, the air quality level in Arlington has reached 204 AQI, or the purple “Very Unhealthy” category above Code Red.

“Everyone may experience more serious health effects and should avoid outdoor activities,” the MWCOG air quality table says about the level.

The Arlington County Fire Department, meanwhile, has responded to several calls this morning for people — including an Arlington Public Schools student — experiencing trouble breathing, according to scanner traffic.

Air quality reading for Arlington as of 11 a.m. Wednesday (via

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