Countywide

Code Red alert signaling unhealthy air issued for Fairfax County

A haze hangs over I-66 in Dunn Loring (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Smoke drifting south from wildfires in Canada has introduced unhealthy levels of air pollution in the D.C. area.

A Code Red Air Quality Alert has been issued for the entire region, including Fairfax County, signaling that the air is unhealthy for everyone today (Wednesday), according to AirNow.

AirNow collects official air quality data reported by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal, state and local agencies.

Fairfax County is advising residents to limit the time they spend outside, particularly if they’re vulnerable to breathing or lung issues:

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and teens – take any of these steps to reduce your exposure:

  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
  • Keep outdoor activities short.
  • Consider moving physical activities indoors or rescheduling them.
  • Avoid waiting in long drive-thru lines, for example, at coffee shops, fast-food restaurants, or banks- park your car and go inside.
  • Combine trips.

Everyone else – take any of these steps to reduce your exposure:

  • Choose less strenuous activities (like walking instead of running) so you don’t breathe as hard.
  • Avoid waiting in long drive-thru lines, for example, at coffee shops, fast-food restaurants, or banks- park your car and go inside.
  • Re-fuel your vehicle after dark.
  • Shorten the amount of time you are active outdoors.
  • Be active outdoors when air quality is better.

Fairfax County Public Schools has canceled all outdoor activities until 6 p.m. and implemented indoor recess, spokesperson Julie Moult confirmed to FFXnow, adding that all information will be posted to the school system’s website.

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw noted that, around 10 a.m., the air quality in Fairfax had actually tipped over into very unhealthy Code Purple territory due to the amount of particulate matter in the air, as measured by the EPA’s Air Quality Index, according to AirNow.

A Code Orange was previously anticipated for today, as smoke from wildfires in Quebec blankets the East Coast.

According to AirNow, the Code Red could be extended into tomorrow (Thursday) with a Code Orange forecast for Friday (June 9).