February 23, 2008
If you have to go outside, try not to breathe
See that orange blob on the map above, the one covering our portion of Wisconsin? Well, here's what it means, according to AirNow, a government website that monitors air quality:
Air Quality Index at Unhealthy Levels
for Sensitive Groups in Wisconsin and Minnesota
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is issuing an Air Quality Advisory for Particle Pollution (Orange) effective Saturday, Feb. 23, 1:01:51 PM through Sunday, Feb. 24, 11:59:59 AM for all Wisconsin Counties.
UPDATE, 2/24/08: The DNR has extended the advisory, from Sunday, Feb. 24, 12:16:07 p.m. through Monday, Feb. 25, at 10 a.m., again for all of the state.
UPDATE, 2/25/08: AND AGAIN: DNR extended the advisory at 10 a.m. this morning through 8 p.m. tonight, forecasting elevated levels of fine particles in the air. Fine particle pollution is composed of microscopic dust, soot, liquid droplets and smoke particles that are 2.5 microns or smaller.
UPDATE, 2/25/08, 8 p.m.: DNR lifted the advisory for Racine County, while extending it through Tuesday noon for Barron, Brown, Calumet, Chippewa, Clark, Dunn, Eau Claire, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Outagamie, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rusk, St. Croix and Taylor Counties.
The advisory is being issued because of persistent elevated levels of fine particles in the air. These fine particles come primarily from combustion sources, such as power plants, factories and other industrial sources, vehicle exhaust, and wood fires.
The Air Quality Index is currently in the orange level, which is considered unhealthy for people in sensitive groups.
People in those sensitive groups include those with heart or lung disease, asthma, older adults and children. When an orange advisory for particle pollution is issued, people in those groups are advised to reschedule or cut back on strenuous activities.
People with lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, and heart disease should pay attention to cardiac symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath or respiratory symptoms like coughing, wheezing and discomfort when taking a breath, and consult with their physician if they have concerns or are experiencing symptoms.
Fine particle pollution deposits itself deep into the lungs and cannot easily be exhaled. People who are at risk are particularly vulnerable after several days of high particle pollution exposure.
Hat tip to The Political Environment.