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Detroit had one of the worst air qualities in the world today

Smoky Detroit skyline
Posted at 10:49 AM, Jun 07, 2023

(WXYZ) — Smoke from wildfires in Canada has made its way to Detroit and other parts of America, creating unhealthy air for people in Southeast Michigan.

According to IQ Air, which measures air quality around the world, Detroit was among the worst cities in the world.

Around 10:42 a.m., Detroit was ranked third in air pollution, behind only Delhi, India and Hanoi Vietnam. The rankings change throughout the day, and the city has also been in fifth and sixth.

An Air Quality Alert is in effect Wednesday and Thursday for Southeast Michigan due to the smoke.

To see the current air quality in your area, visit airnow.gov.

Hundreds of wildfires are burning across western provinces of Canada to Quebec and it's sent smoke all the way throughout the northeast.

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CONCERN?

Air quality alerts are triggered by a number of factors, including the detection of fine-particle pollution — known as “PM 2.5” — which can irritate the lungs.

“We have defenses in our upper airway to trap larger particles and prevent them from getting down into the lungs. These are sort of the right size to get past those defenses,” said Dr. David Hill, a pulmonologist in Waterbury, Connecticut, and a member of the American Lung Association's National Board of Directors. “When those particles get down into the respiratory space, they cause the body to have an inflammatory reaction to them.”

Trent Ford, the state climatologist in Illinois, said the atmospheric conditions in the upper Midwest creating dry, warm weather made it possible for small particulates to travel hundreds of miles from the Canadian wildfires and linger for days.

“It’s a good example of how complex the climate system is but also how connected it is,” Ford said.

WHO SHOULD BE CAREFUL?

Exposure to elevated fine particle pollution levels can affect the lungs and heart.

The air quality alerts caution “sensitive groups,” a big category that includes children, older adults, and people with lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Kids, who often are encouraged to go out and play, “are more susceptible to smoke for a number of reasons,” said Laura Kate Bender, the lung association's National Assistant Vice President, healthy air. “Their lungs are still developing, they breathe in more air per unit of body weight.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR NOW?

It's a good time to put off that yard work and outdoor exercise. If you go out, consider wearing an N95 mask to reduce your exposure to pollutants.

Stay inside, keeping your doors, windows and fireplaces shut. It's recommended that you run the air conditioning on a recirculation setting.

“If you have filters on your home HVAC system, you should make sure they’re up to date and high quality,” Hill said. “Some people, particularly those with underlying lung disease, or heart disease, should consider investing in in air purifiers for their homes.”