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People may still feel effects of wildfire smoke as air quality improves

Lingering concerns of air quality in Philadelphia region as smoke clears from Canadian wildfires
Lingering concerns of air quality in Philadelphia region as smoke clears from Canadian wildfires 02:25

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- While the air quality is improving, some people may still be feeling the effects of a couple of smoky days. The smoke pollution is now mostly invisible in our region and doctors say it can still be causing symptoms.

"We do want everyone to continue to pay attention to this event," Philadelphia Health Commissioner, Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said.

The Philadelphia health commissioner says while the worst of the smoke pollution is over it's not gone and people should remain cautious.

"We've had an unprecedented air quality event," Bettigole said.

Smoke from the Canadian wildfires temporarily caused historically bad air across the Philadelphia region. It was filled with tiny particles contaminated with a variety of toxic substances.

"There are still particulate matter in excess in the air and that is still irritating to people," Dr. Arthur Frank said.

Dr. Frank an environmental health expert with Drexel University says even though you can't see it, smoke toxins are still in the air.

"People are still going to be feeling the effects some people are more sensitive than others," Frank said. "They're going to have itchy eyes, nasal irritation, maybe some cough and respiratory problems. As the air gets better it should clear up I would expect certainly by Monday when we expect heavy rain."

Frank says the temporary bout with wildfire smoke should not cause any lasting health problems but he says we should get ready for more.

"Wildfires are going to be more and more of a problem," Frank said.

He says global warming is expected to spark ongoing fires.

"People need to think about protecting themselves going forward, keeping masks handy," Frank said. "These are changes that are going to be with us for a while."

He says because smoke particles will probably be in the air through the weekend, people should consider limiting outside activities or wearing a mask. Especially people at high risk.

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