Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Earth Day In Wisconsin Brought Another Dirty Air Alert

How ironic and outrageous that there was unhealthy air across much of Wisconsin this Earth Day, according to the bulletin reprinted below from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

This was the pattern for much of the late fall and winter, despite assurances from the state and industry that the state's air quality was improving.

Note also that some of the very counties that are under this and many of the earlier alerts, like Milwaukee County, are among the counties that the state and the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce argued should be released from federal air quality air quality mandates.


The state is getting ready to add 75 miles of new interstate lanes through the heart of the southeastern Wisconsin smog zone, from Milwaukee to the Illinois line, as part of a $1.9 billion freeway rebuilding and expansion project.

The price of gas is skyrocketing, the air quality is already unhealthy, yet the state/highway lobby/road-building troika continues to spend our money on programs that are unsustainable, and unhealthy.

Wisconsin needs a reality check. It needs to address its air quality problems and substantially trim back the very highway expansion that keeps problems from being address and solved.

The City of Milwaukee has requested that $200 million from the $1.9 billion interstate project be shifted to the commuter rail program that needs to get out of the station.

What better time than on the heels of an unfortunate wake-up call about the state's polluted air on Earth Day.

Text of the DNR announcement, below:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is issuing an Air Quality Advisory for Particle Pollution (Orange) for Brown, Calumet, Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Fond Du Lac, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jefferson, Kenosha, Lafayette, Manitowoc, Marquette, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Sauk, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Waushara and Winnebago counties effective 9:00 am on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 through 10:00 am on Wednesday, April 23, 2008 .

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.

To receive air quality advisories by e-mail, visit

There are several actions the public can take to reduce their contributions to this regional air quality problem.

Reduce driving when possible and don't leave vehicle engines idling.

Postpone activities that use small gasoline and diesel engines.

Minimize outdoor wood fires.

Conserve electricity.

For more ideas on how you can reduce your emissions today and every day visit: Do a little, save a lot!

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