Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dirty Wisconsin Air Conditions Continue Into Wednesday

Smokestack and tailpipe emissions hit the sun and heat, and the result is another day of unhealthy air for much of the state's population along the Lake Michigan coastline.

It's not "Healthier-by-the-Lake."

I'll post the text below from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which had issued an alert for a larger portion of the state for Tuesday.

Cleaner energy, better pollution controls and conservation across the board would go a long way towards reducing the number of these alerts and the health risks the dirty air poses to people who live in these parts.

From the DNR:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is issuing an Air Quality Advisory for Ozone (Orange) for Kenosha, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine and Sheboygan counties effective 4:28 pm on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 through 10:00 pm on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 .

The advisory is being issued because of persistent elevated levels of ground level ozone. Ground level ozone is formed when pollution from power plants, factories and other industrial sources, vehicle exhaust, and volatile organic compounds chemically reacts with hot temperatures, high humidity and atmospheric stagnation.

The Air Quality Index is currently in the orange level, which is considered unhealthy for people in sensitive groups and others, including people who are not in sensitive groups but who are engaged in strenuous outside activities or exposed for prolonged periods of time.

People in those sensitive groups include those with respiratory diseases, such as asthma, older adults, and active adults and children. When an orange advisory for ozone is issued, people in those groups are advised to reschedule or cut back on strenuous outside activities.

People with lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis should pay attention to 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.

Ground level ozone can irritate the respiratory system, reduce lung function, aggravate asthma and chronic lung diseases, and, over time, cause permanent lung damage.

To receive air quality advisories by e-mail, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/air/newsletters/.
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, http://airnow.gov

DNR's statewide air quality monitoring web page, http://dnrmaps.wisconsin.gov/wisards

For local DNR air management program contacts, http://dnr.wi.gov/air/about/regions.htm


Michael Pereckas said...

I like how we are contradictorily advised to avoid exercise and avoid driving. I'm not taking an ozone day off from work. Either bicycle or car. I generally go with bicycle, on the theory that if we all do that we won't have the air quality problem in the first place.

James Rowen said...

Maybe the DNR should encourage the use of mass transit on these days?

Michael Pereckas said...

It probably never occurred to them to suggest transit, as it's not as if we have much. My commute in the city of Milwaukee is under 40 minutes by bicycle, about ten minutes less by car (depending on traffic), but closer to two hours by bus.

I always wonder if anyone actually does respond to the air alerts. Do gasoline sales drop and then rebound after the alert as people defer fueling until the air improves? Does lawn care with those horrific polluting small engines get deferred? I don't imagine lawn care companies take ozone days off.