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Code Orange Air Quality Alert Issued After Smoke From Canada Wildfires Drifts South

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A Code Orange Air Quality Alert has been issued for several counties around the state because of wildfire smoke from Canada.

It's hard to not notice the haze across western Pennsylvania.

"Very hazy. Kinda like ehhh, don't want to be out for too long," said Washington resident Lindsay Kulasa.

That is why Lindsay Kulasa sat in the car with her 4-year-old son, to keep him inside as much as possible while her husband shopped at Trinity Point.

"Sensitive groups are those people who are young children, elderly or if they have respiratory problems," said Jamar Thrasher with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. "What we recommend is they just stay indoors and limit outside activities."

Thrasher said fine particulate matter is in the air from wildfire smoke coming from Canada, and experts say it's not good for you to inhale. Light winds are blowing the particles into our area and can actually make it easier to get sick.

WATCH: KDKA's Bryant Reed Reports

"I think there's a precedent for this effect to be towards almost any infectious agent that affects the lungs," said Dr. Jim Fabisiak, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Pitt.

Dr. Fabisiak is referring to infections such as the flu and COVID-19. Doctors say a new study shows that fine particulate matter from wildfires could cause more coronavirus cases to happen.

"I sort of think it's an effect on your lungs' immune system, your host defense in response to any pollution and then you happen to be exposed to COVID much more closer to where you live," said Fabisiak. "Perhaps someone who's also indoors who has COVID, then maybe that's a potential mechanism of transmission too."

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says to drive less by carpooling or using public transportation. If you do drive, refuel your cars after dusk, set your thermostat to a higher temperature and combine errands to reduce your trips.

Some of those areas under Code Orange include Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington, Beaver, Butler, Fayette and Armstrong counties as well as 13 others in the state.

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