June 23, 2023 at 2:20 p.m.
Updated June 23, 2023 at 2:20 p.m.

Air quality alerts continue

By Kenyon Bennett

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommends that Wisconsinites limit their outdoor time due to Canadian wildfire smoke, Debbie Siegenthaler, Iowa County Health Department director/health officer, said June 15. The wildfires could worsen the week of June 19 and send additional smoke into the U.S.

Wisconsin is part of the Midwest impacted negatively by the smoke. The state uses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index for alerts. The AQI is categorized by good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy, very unhealthy, and hazardous levels. Ozone concentration ranges are measured in the air during an 8-hour rolling average, and fine particle concentrations are measured in a 24-hour rolling average, the DNR said. See a more defined chart at https://airquality.wi.gov/home/text/538.

As concentrations are heightened, the levels for concern increase. The EPA defines the AQI chart. Good means that “air quality is satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.” Moderate means “air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.” Unhealthy for sensitive groups means “members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is less likely to be affected.” Unhealthy means “some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.” Very unhealthy means a health alert is issued, and “the risk of health effects is increased for everyone.” Hazardous means a health warning of emergency conditions is issued, and “everyone is more likely to be affected.”

Local Madison television stations and online news services broadcast what is happening for Wisconsin’s air.

Canadian wildfire smoke has been ongoing. The Philadelphia Phillies’ series finale against the Detroit Tigers June 7 in Philadelphia and the New York Yankees’ home game against the Chicago White sox were postponed one day due to poor air quality caused by wildfire smoke. Smoke permeated Yankee Stadium when Major League Baseball officials rescheduled the Yankees’ game.