Chicago’s air quality today is the worst in the world

How is the air quality today in Chicago?

It is the worst anywhere on the planet, according to the World Air Quality Index. It’s just worse than the biggest and most polluted cities in India and China. Minneapolis was ranked second; Detroit fifth., which uses the official U.S. Air Quality Index, listed Chicago as unsanitary at 9 a.m. Chicago time.

Blame it on the smoke from the wildfires north of the Canadian border.

Surely people with respiratory issues should definitely limit their time outdoors today and try to keep indoors if possible, said Zachary Yack, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville.

The Weather Service does not issue air quality advisories, although it does issue them from state and local agencies, Yack said. Illinois had not issued an air quality advisory as of 9:20, Yack said.

Chicago’s Department of Public Health was preparing a statement on the city’s air quality, a spokesperson told the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday morning.

Chicago Public Schools released a statement Tuesday regarding CPS summer programs: CPS will use plans for inclement weather and will hold programs indoors today to reduce risk to students and staff.

Yack noted that Tuesday’s winds pulled smoke from Canada across Wisconsin, Michigan and parts of Illinois and northern Indiana.

The smoke is expected to gradually drift south and west today and clear as it does. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be in this smoky haze at least tonight and then into the early part of tomorrow before things really start to look up, Yack said.

The mayor’s office has recommended that children, adolescents, the elderly, people with heart or lung disease, and those who are pregnant avoid strenuous activities and limit their time outdoors.

The city has also recommended that people consider wearing masks outdoors.

As these unsafe conditions continue, the city will continue to provide updates and act quickly to ensure vulnerable people have the resources they need to protect themselves and their families, Mayor Brandon Johnson said in a written statement.

The Chicago skyline is obscured by smoke from the Canadian wildfires on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.

Chicago’s skyline is obscured by smoke from the Canadian wildfires on Tuesday. Air quality is expected to improve by this week.

The American Lung Association offers these six tips for people to avoid lung irritation and health complications from increased air pollution:

Stay indoors

People living near areas affected by the fire should follow guidance from local authorities and stay indoors to reduce breathing smoke, ash and other pollution into the area if required.

Protect the air in your home

Keep doors, windows, and fireplace shutters closed and preferably with clean air circulating through air conditioners on the recirculate setting. You can also watch this video on how to create a clean room at home.

Keep an eye out for symptoms

Higher levels of smoke in some areas can make breathing more difficult. If you experience symptoms that concern you, contact your doctor.

Take precautions for children

Extra precautions should be taken for children, who are more susceptible to smoking. Their lungs are still developing and they breathe in more air (and consequently more pollution) than adults.

Don’t count on a dust mask

Regular dust masks, designed to filter out large particles, and cloth face coverings won’t help. However, they allow the passage of the smallest, most dangerous particles. Specialty, more expensive dust masks with an N-95 or N-100 filter will filter out harmful fine particles, but they may not fit properly, aren’t made for children or adults with facial hair, and are difficult for people with lung disease to use .

Ask for help

The American Lung Associations Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA is staffed by nurses and respiratory therapists and is a free resource to answer any questions about the lungs, lung disease, and lung health, including how to protect yourself during wildfires .

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