Wildfire Smoke from Canada Engulfs the Midwest Region

**Smoke from Canada’s Wildfires Causes Poor Air Quality in Detroit**

The Detroit area woke up Wednesday to some of the worst air quality in the United States as smoke from Canada’s wildfires settled over most of the Great Lakes region and unhealthy haze spread southward, as far as Missouri and Kentucky.

**Smoke Spreads across the United States**

Drifting smoke from the wildfires has lowered curtains of haze on broad swaths of the United States, pushing into southern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, and moving into parts of West Virginia.

**Hazardous Air Quality Levels**

The Environmental Protection Agency’s site showed Detroit in the “hazardous” range and warned that “everyone should stay indoors and reduce activity levels.” Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Ohio; and Pittsburgh all have “very unhealthy” air. A wider circle of unhealthy air spread into St. Louis and Louisville, Ky.

**Concerns for Poor and Black Communities**

The smoke is exacerbating air quality issues for poor and Black communities that already are more likely to live near polluting plants and in rental housing with mold and other triggers.

**Air Pollution Challenges in Detroit**

Detroit’s southwest side is home to a number of sprawling refineries and manufacturing plants and has battled air pollution for decades. It is also one of the poorest parts of a mostly Black city, which has an overall poverty rate of about 30%. According to a 2022 report by the American Lung Association, the city’s ozone and short-term particle pollution ranked among the worst in the nation.

**Efforts to Address Air Pollution**

Darren Riley, a Detroit resident who was diagnosed with asthma in 2018, started JustAir, which provides air pollution monitoring. Riley aims to address the unequal distribution of air pollution by ensuring that everyone, regardless of their zip code or skin color, has equal access to clean air.

**Respiratory Issues in Milwaukee**

Milwaukee County Emergency Medical Services has witnessed a spike in calls for residents with respiratory complaints, with a disproportionate amount of calls for respiratory issues among the Black population. This highlights the need to protect vulnerable individuals and provide them with the necessary resources.

**Protecting Vulnerable Individuals in Chicago**

Mayor Brandon Johnson of Chicago urged young people, older adults, and residents with health issues to spend more time indoors and pledged swift action to ensure their well-being.

**Air Quality Alerts and Smoky Skies**

Minnesota issued a record 23rd air quality alert for the year, with smoky skies obscuring the skylines of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana also issued air quality alerts, and cities including Louisville advised people to limit outdoor activity.

**Canadian Wildfires**

Across Canada, 490 fires are burning, with 255 of them considered to be out of control. The previous record for burned land in Canada was set in 1989, emphasizing the severity of the current situation.

**Rainfall and Firefighting Efforts**

Some wet weather in Quebec gave firefighters a chance to get ahead of some of the flames, but there hasn’t been enough rain to extinguish the wildfires. Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Legault expects the rain to stop falling in the regions most affected by forest fires by Wednesday morning.

**Impact of Wildfire Smoke**

The small particles in wildfire smoke can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and affect the heart and lungs, making it harder to breathe. Health officials emphasize the importance of limiting outdoor activities to avoid inhaling the particles.

**President Biden and Climate Change**

President Joe Biden, during his visit to Chicago, will witness the impact of poor air quality caused by the Canadian wildfires. He is expected to promote his renewable energy policies and address the importance of addressing climate change.

**Predictions for Future Fires**

Joel Thornton, a professor and chair of the department of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, warns that the warming planet will produce hotter and longer heatwaves, leading to bigger and smokier fires.

**Immediate Concerns for Individuals**

Individuals like Priti Marwah, who was beginning a run along Chicago’s lakefront, expressed concerns about the impact of poor air quality on their health and well-being.

**Improvement in Air Quality**

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency predicts that a cold front will bring cleaner air from the west across the Great Lakes region by early Thursday.

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