COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — An Air Quality Alert has been extended to Wednesday due to wildfires in eastern Canada.
Initially put in place Tuesday, air quality in central Ohio will have pollution levels Wednesday that may be unhealthy for sensitive groups, according to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
“We haven’t had a particle pollution alert in nearly 13 years in central Ohio. This is happening because of wildfires. The wildfire smoke is moving into the region from Canada and it’s impacting a lot of communities in the Midwest,” said Brandi Whetstone, sustainability officer for MORPC. So as a result, we’re seeing elevated levels of particle pollution.”
MORPC issues alerts when pollution levels exceed 100 on a 0-500 scale. On Wednesday, MORPC predicts the air pollution level will reach 112; Tuesday’s pollution level was projected to be 102.
Active children, the elderly, and people with asthma and COPD are likely to experience more severe symptoms during an alert, MORPC said. Those at risk are advised to limit their outdoor activity in the morning; if you do experience symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
Canada is in the midst of one of the worst starts on record to its wildfire season. The current air pollution in central Ohio is the result of wildfires in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia.
“These are tiny particles and droplets that get into your lungs, they can even get into your blood stream, they’re so small, so they can really aggravate asthma or other respiratory conditions and even contribute to heart issues,” Whetstone said as she explained particle pollution.
Wednesday’s forecast calls for moderate winds that will help disperse the pollution, but those same winds will also carry smoke into the region, prompting the extension.
Whetstone said it’s possible the alert could be extended past Wednesday.