Smoke billowing from Canadian wildfires across Michigan has given Detroit the worst air quality in the world by one measure.
IQAir’s Air Quality Index initially ranked Chicago with an air quality index in the 170s, ranking it 151-200 in the unhealthy category.
By late Tuesday, Detroit had surpassed that at 203. China’s Chengdu and Delhi, India were ranked third and fourth, according to the website late Tuesday. Toronto, Canada was ranked fifth.
IQAir fights air pollution and operates “the world’s largest free real-time air quality information platform,” according to its website.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow.gov site reported Tuesday afternoon that parts of Illinois, Michigan and southern Wisconsin had the worst air quality in the U.S., and Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee were classified as “very unhealthy.”
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy has issued a statewide air quality alert through Wednesday, warning children, vulnerable adults and pet owners to limit time outdoors due to high levels of particulate matter from Canadian wildfires.
This is the first time EGLE has issued a statewide air quality alert, said Alec Kownacki, meteorologist with EGLE’s air quality division. Others were for parts of the state.
“These plumes of smoke are denser, wider and thicker than what we saw in June, and the way the winds are blowing around the eastward-moving weather system right now is pulling it all into our state,” Kowanaki said. said.
Sarah Schultz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township, characterized Tuesday’s warning as “one of the worst we’ve ever had.”
“We’re getting into an unhealthy range for sensitive groups today,” Schultz said. “People want to be careful about going out.”
Smoke rises from a forest fire in Quebec, Canada. AirNow.gov Detroit’s air quality index was 283 just after 5 p.m., up from 250 two hours earlier, in the “very unhealthy” range.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services advised those particularly sensitive to the conditions to stay indoors with air conditioning and to minimize strenuous activity. The department recommended that N95 masks be worn outdoors.
“The elderly, 65 and older, pregnant women, children and people with lung and heart conditions are more likely to get sick from breathing in wildfire smoke,” officials said. “If you have asthma, follow your asthma control action plan or contact your health care provider if you have symptoms. If you have heart disease and experience these symptoms, contact your health care provider.”
The American Heart Association warns that exposure to wildfire smoke increases the risk of heart disease.
The state veterinarian’s office also weighed in and issued a publication on the effects of air quality on animals.
“Just like humans, animals are affected when air quality is affected, especially birds, animals with respiratory and heart conditions, and other sensitive populations such as young or senior animals,” said Assistant State Veterinarian Jennifer Calogero. “If animals are negatively affected by breathing poor quality air, they may exhibit various disease symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, watery eyes, lethargy, changing the sound of their voice, loss of appetite and thirst.”
Air quality was impacted by the Michigan Air National Guard overpasses in nine Michigan communities to mark the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. Low visibility prevented observers in Detroit from seeing the planes overhead.
“I was a little disappointed,” said Nikolai Vincent, 23, of Brighton, who had gathered with some friends on the Detroit Riverwalk in anticipation of the KC-135 Stratotanker and A-10 Thunder flying by.
Gray skies, an air quality warning and low-hanging clouds made it difficult for anyone on the Riverwalk and Belle Isle outside Hart Plaza to see the plane.
“It was very stealthy,” said Marshall Lockyer, 22, of Beverly Hills.
The weather service in Grand Rapids said, “There will be reduced visibility at times, and you may notice the smell of fire in the air.” He tweeted that. “… Everyone should cut back on time outdoors.”
The weather service recommends keeping windows closed overnight and running central air conditioning with MERV-13 or higher rated filters. It also recommends avoiding outdoor burning and using residential wood burning devices.
“Most people think of breathing problems and respiratory health risks from wildfire smoke, but it’s important to recognize the impact on heart health,” said Dr. Comilla Sasson, vice president for science and innovation at the American Heart Association and a practice. Emergency medicine physician. “Wildfire smoke contains numerous pollutants, including fine particulate matter, that are associated with cardiovascular risk.”
A total of 76,129 square kilometers (29,393 square miles) of land, including forests, have burned across Canada since Jan. 1, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center said Monday. This surpasses the previous record of 75,596 square kilometers (29,187 sq mi) set in 1989. National Forestry Database.
Nationally, there are currently 490 fires burning, 255 of which are uncontained.
Even recent rainfall in Quebec may not be enough to extinguish wildfires ravaging the province’s north, but wet weather will give firefighters a chance to get ahead of the flames, officials said Tuesday.
Almost a quarter of the fires burning in Canada are in Quebec. Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Legault said rain is expected by Wednesday morning in the areas most affected by the wildfires.
Earlier this month, massive fires burning in Canadian forests blanketed the northeastern United States and the Great Lakes region, turning the air a yellowish gray and prompting warnings for people to stay indoors and close windows.
In early June, US President Joe Biden said in a statement that hundreds of US firefighters and aid workers have been in Canada since May, drawing attention to the fires to remind them of the impacts of climate change.
Staff writers Shante Lewis and Mysha Johnson and The Associated Press contributed.