Saturday, May 18, 2024

Midwest Outdoor Events Cancelled Due To Canadian Wildfire Air Quality Alerts

AAA projects 50.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day weekend in the United States, setting a new record for the holiday. Domestic travel over the long weekend will increase by 2.1 million people compared to 2022. This year’s projection surpasses the previous July 4th weekend record set in 2019 of 49 million travelers.

Currently, over 120 million people are under the alerts and some of the worst air quality, which is classified as “very unhealthy,” is centered over the Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Indianapolis metro areas.

Residents of Chicago woke up yesterday morning to the worst air quality in the world according to the IQAir index. Some improvement in the air quality is expected on Thursday, particularly over the Great Lakes area, where rain and storms will help cleanse the air.

The poor air quality is being caused by the wildfires that continue to rage across Canada.

Air quality alerts have been issued for the entire states of New York, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Delaware and Maryland as well are parts of Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.

The DC Metro region will be under a Code Red air quality alert on Thursday due to the wildfire smoke possibly bringing levels to “unhealthy” in Washing, Virginia and Maryland, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

Many cities are making face masks available for residents who plan to go outside as conditions worsen. For example, the city of Clarkston, Michigan posted on its Facebook page that free N95 masks are available at City Hall, 375 Depot Road, while supplies last.

Outdoor activities are being cancelled throughout the Midwest as residents are being advised to stay indoors. Community pools and outside summer youth sports activities are being cancelled this week as a precaution to protect people’s health.

Beaches in Evanston, Illinois, were closed due to air quality issues, and city officials told people to remain indoors.In Cleveland the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss concert scheduled for Wednesday at Blossom Music Center has been canceled.

This contaminated air could put a huge damper on holiday outdoor plans that are customary for the fourth of July weekend like trips to beaches and lakes, fireworks displays and barbecues with family and friends.

The air pollution from the wildfires is unhealthy especially for those in sensitive groups including people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, people with asthma and those who spend a lot of time outdoors.

Here’s what you should do during unhealthy air quality conditions:

  • Keep outdoor activities light and short. Consider exercising inside gyms or walking inside malls workouts.
  • Consider moving all activities indoors.
  • Go indoors if you have symptoms.
  • Wear a mask if spending long periods outdoors, such as N95

If you plan to travel this week to affected regions take precautions and check the air quality before making the trip by using the resources below. Check with your event organizers to make sure there are not schedule changes or cancellations.

Also make sure to monitor flight schedules because some flights have been affected earlier in the week in Milwaukee and other cities when visibility was reduced.

US EPA Wildfires and Smoke map: tinyurl.com/yc4cw5fw
US EPA Interactive Map of Air Quality: tinyurl.com/yat8tsd9
US EPA Fires and your health: tinyurl.com/2evttm6k
US EPA Particle Pollution: tinyurl.com/2mtxf3k7
EGLE Air Monitoring Information and interactive map: tinyurl.com/3fstrf73

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Amy Harris
Amy Harris is a writer and photographer who has been traveling for 20 years and flown over 2 million miles to visit over 80 countries on 6 continents. She is a freelance photographer for Invision by Associated Press, AP Images and Rex/Shutterstock. Her work can be seen in various publications and websites including: Rolling Stone, AP Images, National Geographic Books, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Forbes.com, Lonely Planet Travel Guides, JetStar magazine, and Delta Sky Magazine.

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