An orange haze hangs over Edison, NJ. (Photo by Glenn Townes, NJ Urban News)

On Wednesday, a murky, deep, thick, putrid, orange haze hung over Newark, and most of New Jersey as out-of-control wildfires rage more than 400 miles away in Canada plague the metro area.

Most of the Garden State remained under a Code Red Air Quality Alert issued by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) due to dangerous and toxic smoke levels. For example, on Wednesday afternoon, the air quality index (AQI) topped 300 in Newark and several surrounding cities. According to information from the NJDEP, an AQI rating of 300 or more is considered polluted, dangerous, and unhealthy.

Gov. Phil Murphy said officials from the NJDEP are closely monitoring the air quality levels. “As conditions worsen statewide, I strongly urge all sensitive individuals–including those with heart or lung disease, the elderly, and the young to stay safe and limit the amount of time active outdoors today,” Murphy said. The governor also encouraged anyone that has to be outside for extended periods to wear a KN-95 mask.

In a statement to the local media, physicians said poor air quality could trigger shortness of breath and other respiratory ailments in otherwise healthy individuals. “The smoke is traveling, and it makes the air quality worse, and it contains more particulate matter, too,” said Dr. Lisa Casale, a critical care physician at Hackensack Meridian Health/JFK University Medical Center in Edison.

According to data from the EPA, the health effects of wildfire smoke are similar to that of other air pollutants such as car exhaust fumes, heavy pollen extractions, chemical waste emissions, and smog. For example, poor and hazardous air quality can irritate or exacerbate existing ailments, such as pulmonary people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or lung cancer.

In South Jersey, an intense wildfire that started on Tuesday burned about 70 acres before it was contained on Wednesday. The fire, its aftermath, and the smoke from the Canadian wildfires added to the state’s overall poor and hazardous air quality. “The heavy smoke and stagnant air make it hard to see and breathe,” said Vicky Fedor, a dental hygienist in Jackson, NJ. Fedor said she felt nauseous and limited her time outside.

Lastly, many state offices closed early on Wednesday, and several school districts canceled after-school activities on Wednesday and Thursday. As of Wednesday evening, local hospitals have not reported an increase in Emergency Room (ER) or admissions due to the statewide hazardous air quality.

Reader Gallery

Flemington, New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy George Pace.
Woodbridge, New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Joseph Evaldi.
Edison, New Jersey. June 6, 2023. Courtesy Karen Halo.
North Plainfield, New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Margaret Toman.
New Jersey State House in Trenton, N.J. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Matthew Hersh.
Franklin Township (Somerset County), New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Max Ruggieri.
Newark, New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Mike Tatick.
Somerset, New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Nic Velba.
West Orange, New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Stacey Reese.
Old Bridge, New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Jeffrey Kagan.
New Jersey Turnpike, near Exit 14. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Anthony Quintano.

“I drove up from South Jersey to witness and document the large plume of smoke that was forecast to consume the area on Wednesday (June 7, 2023). I experienced the dark orange skies as I approached Newark, which is where I started documenting. I made my way into Manhattan to get an aerial view of the city from Top of the Rock, then to RedHook Brooklyn to catch the sunset. It was a truly wild experience and I hope this doesn’t become a normal phenomenon.” – Anthony Quintano, Multimedia Journalist

New Jersey Turnpike, near Newark Airport. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Anthony Quintano.
East Brunswick, New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Maria Manjelo.
Top of Newport Mall parking deck, Jersey City, New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Lindsay Erin.
Horseshoe Lake, Roxbury, New Jersey. June 5-6, 2023. Photos by Scott R. McKinley.
Ledgewood, New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Jean Marie Glaser.
Afternoon sunbeams (no filter), South Orange, New Jersey. June 6, 2023. Courtesy Allison Leslie.
Old Bridge, New Jersey. June 7, 2023. Courtesy Suzanne King.

I'm an award winning journalist based in Edison, NJ. My work has been featured in dozens of publications including, Black Enterprise magazine; ESSENCE magazine and Real Health magazine. I am also a featured...

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