An air quality alert is in effect until midnight as smoke from wildfires in western states and Canada continues to blow through the region. The smoke also affected air quality in the region last week.
On Friday, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued a code orange air quality alert for fine particulate matter, including in the Knoxville metropolitan area. The air quality alert includes Anderson County. It went into effect at midnight Friday and continues until midnight Saturday.
The orange alert means the air is unhealthy for people in sensitive groups, according to AirNow.gov. This includes people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and teenagers. They should choose less strenuous activities, like walking instead of running, so they don’t breathe as hard. They should also shorten the amount of time they are active outdoors, and postpone outdoor activities if possible to when the air quality is better. Everyone else can enjoy outdoor activities, AirNow.gov said.
The air quality alert is for PM2.5. That is particulate matter in the air that is very small, 2.5 micrometers. That is about one ten-thousandth of an inch or less in diameter, or smaller than the thickness of a human hair.
“Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects,” TDEC said. “The general public is less likely to be affected.”
An expanding area of thick smoke was expected to move into northern counties Friday night, affecting most of middle Tennessee and far northeastern Tennessee. By Saturday morning, most of the thicker smoke was likely to remain in Nashville, Knoxville, and the Tri-Cities areas, TDEC said. During that time, the alert areas are expected to have a 24-hour average in the orange category of the air quality index.
“If you or someone you know is especially sensitive to particle pollution, consider limiting outdoor activity,” TDEC said.
The haze could continue in Oak Ridge on Sunday, according to the forecast from the National Weather Service in Morristown.
The high today in Oak Ridge is forecast at 92 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a 20 percent to 40 percent chance of showers tonight and haze Sunday morning. The high is expected to drop Sunday to near 85, and there is a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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