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Midwest Air Quality Alert: Canadian Wildfire Smoke

Is the air quality good in the Midwest?

The air quality in the Midwest on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, is poor due to the presence of smoke from Canadian wildfires (1)(2)(3). There are concentrations of poor air quality ranging from “unhealthy” in Chicagoand from “unhealthy for sensitive groups" in Minneapolisand Detroit.

The smoke is expected to shift eastward through the Great Lakes region and disperse by Wednesday. However, the upper Midwest is also forecasted to experience some of its hottest temperatures so far this year, worsening the air quality situation.

Are there any alerts in place?

Authorities have issued air quality alerts for much of the Upper Midwest due to the smoke.

The Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy has issued an Action Day for Fine Particulates due to the concentration of PM2.5 in Southeast Michigan, leading to unhealthy air quality, especially for sensitive groups. Additionally, the National Weather Service has issued air quality alerts for millions of people across Michigan and parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.

Why are there air quality alerts in the Midwest?

Wildfire smoke contains particulate matter pollutants like PM2.5 (particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns in diameter or less) that can cause difficulty breathing, eye and throat irritation, and pose serious long-term health risks, such as lung cancer.

What is causing poor air quality in the Midwest?

The poor air quality in the Midwest is primarily caused by the smoke from more than 1,000 wildfires burning across Canada. The smoke has drifted southward and blanketed the northern US cities, including those in the Midwest. Canadian wildfires have been particularly severe this year, scorching almost 29 million acres of land and releasing significant amounts of smoke into the atmosphere.

How can I protect myself from poor air quality?

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