As the world watches the destruction of wildfires in Canada with measured horror, two major cities in the United States have now found themselves suffering from the smoke as well. Chicago, Illinois and Minneapolis, Minnesota are ranked first and second, respectively, on the global air quality index, due to unhealthy air quality resulting from the wildfires.
The severity of the situation was brought to light when both cities were classified as “unhealthy” according to the IQAir scale. Chicago’s air quality index (AQI) stands at an alarming 209, and 188 in Minneapolis. To put this into perspective, the “unhealthy” level for the IQAir scale, begins at 151.
An advisory issued by the National Weather Service said anyone suffering from heart or lung disease, elders, adolescents, and children should avoid outdoor activities. In Indiana, Northwest Indiana was put under an air quality alert due to the smoke, including Jasper, Lake, Newton, and Porter counties.
Mayor Brandon Johnson released a statement urging all of Chicago to take precautions such as wearing masks, limiting outdoor exposure, and moving activities indoors. Additionally, Johnson said the city is doing its part to ensure vulnerable people can protect themselves and their families.
Dr. Allison Arwady, the Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner, noted that the air quality levels are unusual for Chicago.“It’s actually quite unusual that we would fall for that based on that PM2.5,” she said. “Our ozone is really good right now, so it’s PM2.5, it’s at a higher level.”
The beach hazard advisory also warns of hazardous swimming conditions on Lake Michigan. The city is currently ranked number one in the World Air Quality Index. Although the skies may appear hazy, the forecast shows that the situation should improve by Wednesday evening.