CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Air quality remains poor in Western Massachusetts and across the Northeast, but has a chance of improving for us here in the Pioneer Valley Thursday.

Air quality Thursday morning is classified as “unhealthy” for the Greater Springfield area, which means that everyone has a risk of experiencing some health effects from smoke. That means you ought to limit your time outside. So, if you are a runner, keep it to a walk. If you typically do a two-mile walk with your dog, shorten that. The time of exposure and volume of air taken in are what make the difference Thursday.

According to data from the Pioneer Valley Healthy Air Network, air across Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties are consistently over the mark of 150 on the Air Quality Index.

The Air Quality Index, or AQI, is the EPA’s measure of air quality. The scale goes from 0-500, with higher numbers meaning less healthful air quality. Anything over 150 is considered “unhealthy.” The next milestone is 201, which is “very unhealthy,” and anything over 300 is classified as “dangerous.” New York City reached an AQI of above 300 on Wednesday, and such conditions are expected in parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland today.

According to Air Now, the federal government’s air quality monitoring service, we could see some improvements in air quality here in western Massachusetts today as air patterns shift. They forecast the Pioneer Valley to be back in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range (between 101 and 150 AQI- an improvement over “unhealthy”) later today, and in the “moderate” range (between 51 and 100 AQI) over the weekend.

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Duncan MacLean is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2019. Follow Duncan on X @DMacLeanWWLP and view his bio to see more of his work.