Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nice Winter Day? Not In Milwaukee's LA-Style Polluted Air

If you go outside in Milwaukee County, bring your face mask.

Here's what the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has to say about our air quality for Sunday:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is issuing an Air Quality Advisory for Particle Pollution (Orange) for Milwaukee County effective 10:49 am on Sunday, March 15, 2009 through 11:00 pm on Sunday, March 15, 2009 .

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 burning.

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 s hortness 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 wood burning.
Conserve electricity.

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

Air Quality Watches and Advisories Status Web Site
Daily Air Quality Hotline - 1-866-324-5924 (1-866-DAILY AIR)
Federal interagency air quality web site, for information on the Air Quality Index and nationwide air quality forecasts and air quality conditions,
DNR's statewide air quality monitoring web page,
For local DNR air management program contacts,


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. We are pondering a move to Madison from out of state. In researching the town, I was surprised to discover the presence of several antiquated coal fired power plants (including the Blount Street Plant in the heart of the city), especially since we have a small child with asthma that has required frequent hospitalizations. It was a relief to see that Madison has made progress very recently and that MG&E has pledged to eliminate the burning of coal at the Blount Street plant by 2011 (although it remains to be seen if they will actually honor this pledge). I've read that many neighboring counties are affected by poor air quality, and so I'm wondering where we could live in the Madison area that would reduce our children's exposure to fine particulate matter.

James Rowen said...

Good question: the farther away you locate, say to the west, or south, the farther is your commute and the more separated you are from the heart of the community.

You might Google the City of Madison, and ask the Mayor. I believe the site is, not org. I will check.

James Rowen said...

to Anon: here is the Mayor's contact information;

Anonymous said...

Thanks James! I will contact the mayor.

James Rowen said...

My pleasure. I lived in Madison for many years, and still have friends and family there.

Environmentalism is mainstream there, though politics and intertia often get in the way.

Best of luck.

TWW said...

Dear Chicken Little,
While the sky may appear to be falling on this day, don't embellish a single day event (i.e. the same statistical methods used in Global Warming theory) to equate our area to a region with know area quality issues.

Again, here is where a little research pays off. From your green buddies, here is a comparison of air quality between LA, Chicago, and Milwaukee. While it doesn't compare to Portland or Seattle, Milwaukee's air quality doesn't even approach your comparison of LA.

Air Quality - Los Angeles
24% of days with good air quality
45% of days with moderate air quality
21% of days with unhealthful air quality - sensitive
10% of days with unhealthful air quality

Air Quality - Chicago
5% of days with good air quality
82% of days with moderate air quality
12% of days with unhealthful air quality - sensitive
0% of days with unhealthful air quality

Air Quality - Milwaukee
79% of days with good air quality
18% of days with moderate air quality
3% of days with unhealthful air quality - sensitive
0% of days with unhealthful air quality