NATIONAL NEWS

Canadian wildfires are causing unhealthy air quality again in Chicago and other parts of the US

Jun 27, 2023, 11:33 AM

A person walks along the shore of Lake Michigan as the downtown skyline is blanketed in haze from C...

A person walks along the shore of Lake Michigan as the downtown skyline is blanketed in haze from Canadian wildfires Tuesday, June 27, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

CHICAGO (AP) — Drifting smoke from the ongoing wildfires across Canada is creating curtains of haze and raising air quality concerns throughout the Great Lakes region, and in parts of the central and eastern United States.

Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy on Tuesday issued an air quality alert for the entire state, while in Chicago — where the air quality has been categorized “unhealthy” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — officials are urging young people, older adults and residents with health issues to spend more time indoors.

“Just driving into the zoo … you could just see around the buildings, kind of just haze,” said Shelly Woinowski, who was visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Some day care centers in the Chicago area have told parents that their children will remain indoors Tuesday due to the poor air quality, while one youth sports club says it adjusted its activities to add more time indoors.

“We recommend children, teens, seniors, people with heart or lung disease, and individuals who are pregnant avoid strenuous activities and limit their time outdoors,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said in a release. “As these unsafe conditions continue, the city will continue to provide updates and take swift action to ensure that vulnerable individuals have the resources they need to protect themselves and their families.”

Earlier this month, massive fires burning stretches of Canadian forests blanketed the northeastern United States and the Great Lakes region, turning the air yellowish gray, and prompting warnings for people to stay inside and keep windows closed.

The small particles in wildfire smoke can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and can affect the heart and lungs, making it harder to breathe. Health officials say it’s important to limit outdoor activities as much as possible to avoid breathing in these particles.

Fires in northern Quebec and low pressure over the eastern Great Lakes are sending smoke through northern Michigan, and across southern Wisconsin and Chicago, said Bryan Jackson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Jackson added that a north wind would push the smoke further south, moving into Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky later Tuesday and overnight.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an air quality alert for southern, east central, and northeast Minnesota until Thursday night.

Jackson also noted that southwestern Michigan has high air quality index, over 200 on a 500-point index. That’s considered unhealthy for everyone because it denotes high levels of fine particle pollution, or PM2.5 particles.

“Until the fires are out, there’s a risk,” Jackson said. “If there’s any north component to the wind, there’s a chance it’ll be smoky.”

In early June, U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement that hundreds of American firefighters and support personnel have been in Canada since May, and called attention to the fires as a reminder of the impacts of climate change.

The warming planet will produce hotter and longer heat waves, making for bigger, smokier fires, according to Joel Thornton, professor and chair of the department of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Priti Marwah, who was beginning a run along the city’s lakefront, describes the haze in Chicago Tuesday as “bad.”

“Like, you can smell it bad,” she said. “I run a hundred miles a week, so this is going to be dangerous today. You can feel it … just even parking right there and coming out, I can feel it in my lungs.”

The smoky haze didn’t appear to be impacting flights into and out of Detroit Metropolitan Airport or Milwaukee Mitchell Airport on Tuesday morning.

“We’re not seeing anything significant in terms of delays or cancellations due to the smoke,” said Milwaukee Mitchell Airport spokesperson Summer Hegranes. “(But) you can definitely see the smoke.”

National News

FILE - Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference outside federal court in Washington, Dec. 15, ...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani’s bankruptcy case was thrown out. Here’s some key things to know

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge threw out the bankruptcy case of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Friday. He cited repeated “uncooperative conduct,” including a failure to comply with court orders and disclose sources of income. While Giuliani’s creditors can now pursue other legal remedies, such as seizing his apartments and other […]

1 hour ago

FILE- This undated photo provided by the University of Kansas shows researcher Feng “Franklin” ...

Associated Press

Court voids last conviction of Kansas researcher in case that started as Chinese espionage probe

A federal appeals court has reversed the conviction of a researcher who was accused of hiding work he did in China while employed at the University of Kansas. Feng “Franklin” Tao was convicted in April 2022 of three counts of wire fraud and one count of making a materially false statement. U.S. District Judge Julie […]

1 hour ago

This photo provided by the International Fund for Animal Welfare shows several stranded dolphins on...

Associated Press

Dolphin mass stranding on Cape Cod found to be the largest in US history

Rescuers who helped free more than a hundred dolphins from the Cape Cod shoreline say they’ve confirmed that the mass stranding that began June 28 was the largest involving dolphins in U.S. history. There were two prior events on record in Hawaii and the Florida Keys where dolphin species were observed circling in shallow water, […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

A popular tour guide’s death leads to more scrutiny of border issues

Kristie Thibodeaux’s gunfire death made headlines first because it happened in the French Quarter — New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood and a place where residents of historic homes and owners of tourist-dependent restaurants and clubs have long worried about recurring violent crime. Then came the news that one of three suspects in the armed robbery and […]

2 hours ago

FILE -FILE - A Delta Air Lines jetliner is shown at Denver International Airport in Denver, June 26...

Associated Press

Delta Air Lines adopts new rules for flight attendant uniforms after Palestinian pin flap

ATLANTA (AP) — Delta Air Lines is changing its employee uniform policy following a turbulent ride through a social media storm started by a passenger’s outrage over two flight attendants photographed wearing Palestinian pins. The uproar over the July 10 post, which described the Palestinian pins as “Hamas badges,” led Delta to ban its employees […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Man accused of holding girlfriend captive in Minnesota college dorm room reaches plea deal

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A man who was accused of holding his girlfriend captive in her dorm room at a Minnesota college for three days while raping, beating and waterboarding her has reached a plea deal that calls for a sentence of up to 7 1/2 years. Keanu Avery Labatte, 20, of Granite Falls, […]

4 hours ago

Canadian wildfires are causing unhealthy air quality again in Chicago and other parts of the US