Smoky Skies Are Lessening, But Canada Fires Cause Air Problems

Jul 10, 2019

Credit National Park Service

  

Winds have picked up and air quality has improved a bit the past couple of days, but large fires in Ontario have created hazy skies in the region and on occasion, some breathing concerns.

Ontario is currently battling 20 forest fires, which are posing a risk to an estimated 14 communities across the region.

Katie Praedel is Air Monitoring Section Chief for the DNR. She says smoke from the Canadian fires had drifted south and east into the Upper Midwest. We spoke with her earlier this week about the situation...

"...Thanks to the long-range PM2.5 transport ability from these wildfires. DNR monitoring sites are measuring elevated levels of PM2.5 and the air quality index is elevated to the orange level in multiple counties in the state..."

PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter. The orange level is considered unhealthy for people in sensitive groups including people with heart or lung disease, people with asthma or older adults and children. She says people should consider cutting back on activities for now...

"The good news is the smoke and haze is continually improving over the state thanks to stronger southerly winds..."

PM 2.5 is different from other summer problems known as ozone pollution, or smog. Southerly winds blow pollution from larger cities south of Wisconsin and create ozone problems along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

We have a link to the DNR's air quality website here.

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