If you were thinking the sun looked a bit dimmer over the past two days than normal, that the sky looked a bit less blue, and that the air was not all that clean, you weren’t imagining it. A huge cloud of smoke in the upper atmosphere has reduced both visibility and air quality in the county.
The smoke, which originated on the west coast of the U.S. and moved into Pennsylvania via Canada, is coming from large forest fires in the west.
Because some of the smoke has moved to ground level, the air quality index in the county has been reduced. Today’s AQI in Gettysburg was over 100, bringing with it a recommendation from U.S authorities that children, older adults, and people with lung disease should avoid outdoor exertion.
According to the Center for Disease Control, wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning vegetation and can make people sick. Breathing in smoke can have immediate health effects, including coughing, stinging eyes, shortness of breath, and chest pain. The problems are particularly acute for older adults, pregnant women, children, and people with preexisting respiratory and heart conditions.
Some good news: The air quality is expected to be better over the next few days.