PHILADELPHIA – City officials provided an update to the public on the City’s response to poor air quality in the region and impacts to some City services on Thursday, June 8, 2023, due to wildfire smoke from Canada.

“As many know by now, the devastating wildfires in Canada have created smoke that is traveling along much of the East Coast. We hope that the smoke may lessen today, but it still potentially dangerous and we urge residents to continue taking precautions. This includes City employees working outdoors,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Out of an abundance of caution, there will be impacts to some City services to ensure non-emergency personnel avoid working outdoors today. The health of our residents and workers is paramount so please take good care of yourselves and look out for each other. We are monitoring the situation constantly and will share updates and guidance when appropriate.”

This situation is yet another in a long line of crises that Philadelphia residents have had to manage,” said Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, Health Commissioner. “We are hopeful that it passes quickly, and we can get back to our regular lives. But in the meantime, it is critically important that folks take precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones: stay inside unless you absolutely have to go out, wear a high-quality mask if you do go out, and stay up to date on the situation.”

In an abundance of caution, the City of Philadelphia has directed non-emergency personnel to avoid working outdoors today, Thursday, June 8. Therefore, the air quality will create impacts to the following City services:

Sanitation and Recycling Collections: Due to the unhealthy air quality, all Streets Department outdoor operations will be suspended starting at noon today. This includes trash and recycling collections, mechanical cleaning, paving, traffic, street lighting and street repairs. This is being done out of abundance of caution for employees sensitive to the air pollution.

Residents should leave their trash and recycling at the regular pick-up locations if their materials have not been collected. The Streets Department will provide additional updates later as the situation continues.

School Crossing Guards will be on a modified schedule on Thursday, June 8 and Friday, June 9 due to air quality conditions. Hours for coverage have been reduced to permit crossing guards to cross students during the most critical times connected to both the start of the school day and dismissal. School crossing guards have been asked to staff their assigned corners roughly 30 minutes before the start of the school day and 30 minutes after the start of the school day to account for students who may arrive late. The limited schedule of 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after also applies to dismissal.

School crossing guards promote the safety of students walking to and from schools serving grades K to 5. The City will provide additional updates to this announcement should the air quality alert continue into next week.

City Buildings & Services: This air quality alert is not expected to interfere with indoor City government operations on Thursday, June 8.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR): Outdoor programs and permitted events at parks and recreation sites are canceled or moved indoors.

PPR after school programs will be held indoors. Recreation centers are open until 9 p.m. this evening. City recreation buildings are open to the public and offer a safe indoor alternative during periods of poor air quality.

Residents can contact their local rec center to confirm the status of individual programs.

Out-of-School Time: Providers were instructed to plan to stay indoors on Thursday, June 8, and plan appropriate activities. They were asked to review student health information and be mindful of students and staff who may have difficulty due to the air conditions. They were advised to follow Health Department guidelines.

PHL International Airport: Passengers traveling to and from the PHL Airport are advised to stay in contact with their airlines for the most up-to-date flight information by signing up for text or email alerts and downloading the airlines’ apps. Those picking up a passenger at the airport are also advised to check the flight status before heading to the airport. The FAA has lifted the two ground stops that were put into effect last night and this morning impacting flights arriving at PHL only. This is a fluid situation and delays could happen at any time.

Homeless Outreach: Starting Wednesday, homeless outreach teams distributed masks to people on the street. Teams are encouraging people to stay inside City-funded shelters, when possible, and go to indoor day programs. Outreach staff continue to provide services and have been advised to wear masks outside.

Residents are encouraged to call the City’s Homeless Outreach hotline at (215) 232-1984 if they are concerned about someone on the street. However, they should call Philadelphia Fire EMS at 911 if there is a medical emergency.

Pet Safety: Dog owners should not strenuously exercise their dog outside, particularly senior dogs, immunocompromised dogs, and brachycephalic dogs (e.g. pugs, bulldogs, boxers, shar peis, chows, etc.) and only take dogs outside for the minimum amount of time necessary to go to the bathroom. Wiping down their fur when they come back inside is also helpful.

Birds, in particular, are very sensitive to air quality and pet birds should be brought inside if possible. To help wildlife, put fresh water outside and change it daily. Animal protection officers are responding to emergency calls only.

General Guidance for Residents: The Health Department warns Philadelphia residents that while the smoke in the air from the fires in Canada may lessen today, it can still be dangerous. Residents are advised to continue to take precautions until air quality improves. The air is still unhealthy. As the smoke moves through the region, some parts of Philadelphia may experience significantly worse air quality. The latest information and recommendations are available in this press release, residents can also view the latest guidance in the City’s blog post.

For individuals that must be outside during the hazardous period, the City is making masks available free of charge at the following locations:

  • Health Department Resource Hubs (locations available in the City’s Resource Hub blog post).
  • All Philadelphia Police Districts beginning at 4 p.m.
  • Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD)stations will begin providing masks to the public this afternoon. Updates to follow on PFD’s FacebookTwitter, & Instagram accounts.
  • The City is working with community partners, like Dr. Ala Stanford at the Black Doctors Consortium, who was provided protective masks today. You can contact the consortium at or  484-270-6200.

The City is connected with partner organizations that serve homebound individuals to provide them with supplies as needed.

Residents can receive two masks per person and may retrieve supplies for individuals at home who cannot make it themselves. Masks are adult-sized only.

Stay Informed: