The ongoing wildfires happening in Canada have had a profound effect on many of the neighboring states in the United States. Viral images of an orange haze over the New York City skyline showed the effect the smoke had on New York. The smoke has gotten so bad, it is even reaching all the way to Ohio. As a result of the dense smoke, the air quality in much of Ohio has been extremely bad, with many areas receiving air quality warnings. Many events and businesses have been canceled or closed due to the smoke. As the fires continue and grow, the danger in Ohio increases.
As we go into the 4th of July weekend, we await to see how many events will still happen around the state.
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, an Ohio-based organization that issues alerts on air quality, expressed that they fully anticipate unhealthy air quality levels going into the last few days of the week, and could see it potentially bleeding into early next week. They especially are warning that the index levels will be extremely unhealthy for sensitive groups. They monitor the Air Quality Index which comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The index ranges from 0 to 500 and detects both ozone and particulate matter levels. Anything that comes in above one hundred is classified as unhealthy for sensitive groups and qualifies to have a warning issued. When levels reach one hundred and fifty, they issue a warning classifying the quality as unhealthy for all groups.
This week marked the first time since 2003 that a warning had to be issued for unhealthy air quality levels in Ohio.
The MORPC encourages everyone to limit outdoor activities while the warning is in effect. They expect to possibly have to extend the warning and advise everyone to stay aware as updates and changes are constantly happening.
The organization released a list of symptoms of respiratory illnesses one can get due to the air quality. The list includes:
- Irritation of the eyes, throat, and nose
- Tightness of the Chest
- Shortness of breath
They advise anyone to seek medical attention if these symptoms appear and do not clear up shortly.
Currently, Cleveland and parts of Franklin County are considered “very unhealthy” due to their higher levels. The Ohio EPA office chief released a statement saying the air quality levels that the state is reaching are unusually high and rare.