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'Code Orange': Air quality advisory issued to over half of Wisconsin

Smog, fog and pollution in Lyon during a winter sunrise.
Sander van der Werf
Stock Adobe
Gray smoke has reached parts of Wisconsin skies due to recent Canadian Wildfires raging to the north.

Gray smoke has reached parts of Wisconsin skies due to recent Canadian Wildfires raging to the north. Now, more than half of the state is under an air quality advisory of "code orange," which means the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Paul Billings is the national senior vice president of public policy for the American Lung Association. He says there are several ways to keep safe during these smoke events.

"Don't exercise outdoors, stay indoors. When you're driving your car, have the AC on recirculate so you're not getting that outside pollution into your vehicle. Keep your windows closed in your home. If you have a HEPA air cleaner, run that [to] try to create a clean room, maybe a bedroom where you keep the windows sealed tightly ... .Really listen to your body. Masks like N95s and KN95s can help keep some of the particles from getting into your lungs," he shares.

Billings says children, seniors, people with asthma or other significant respiratory impairments are the most vulnerable to the unhealthy air quality.

Air pollution can also be linked with heart attacks and strokes, he adds.

And while there isn’t a list of data, the Lung Association is seeing more people visit health care providers with complaints associated with smoke exposure.

"One thing is certain because of climate change and the conditions that climate change is creating for wildfires, these hot, dry conditions will continue to see wildfire events that will impact the quality of the air we breathe, which is why it's so important that we not only take steps to protect ourselves from the immediate impacts of wildfire but also take steps to do more to combat climate change and to reduce the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, which is leading to these catastrophic weather events," he says.

As for the wildfires' impact on air quality in Wisconsin, Billings says that depends on which way the wind is blowing as well as other factors.

Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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