People in parts of the U.S., including New York and New England, will notice thick haze -- and possibly even smell smoke -- when outside.

Northerly winds have carried wildfire smoke nearly 500 miles from Quebec, Canada.

It has now fully blanketed Central New York.

Air Quality is measured on a points system from 0 to 500. A reading of more than 200 is considered very unhealthy, with 300 being hazardous.

As of 11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, Syracuse was at an unhealthy Air Quality Index (AQI) of 162.

Recent studies from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley have drawn comparisons between inhaling air pollution at certain AQI levels and smoking cigarettes. They mention although there are considerable differences in the specific chemicals found in wildfire smoke versus cigarette smoke, the comparison serves as a good analogy.

It's been approximated that someone who smokes a cigarette inhales about 22 micrograms of PM 2.5.

PM 2.5 is what we use to measure the concentration of wildfire particulate matter in the atmosphere.

After further studies, 22 micrograms of PM 2.5 was then found to be equivalent to an AQI of 72 points after 24 hours of exposure. Using the calculator on the EPA's website, if you were to spend the next 24 hours outside in Central New York you'd expose yourself to air pollution as harmful as three cigarettes.

And plugging in the current AQI of Ottawa, you'd be smoking a whopping 10.7 cigarettes.

The forecast for surface smoke over the next few days also does not look promising. If anything, expect the smoke to get even thicker by Wednesday morning.

It's a similar scene in Southern New England, where most of the smoke is concentrated at ground level, which means the air quality has been impacted.

The odor of burning wood is likely to engulf the area the entire day.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management forecasts this to be a prolonged event that will last through the evening. A few pop-up afternoon thunderstorms should help briefly before smoke fills back in.

The smoke plume thins through Wednesday, with improving air quality.

There is still some uncertainty about when the smoke will completely vacate the region due to model limitations.

The worst-case scenario is smoke plagues the region in one form or another through this weekend. The best-case scenario is the plume is dispersed to our southwest by Thursday.


EDITOR'S NOTE: WJAR's Jason Doris contributed to this report.

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