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Local air quality alerts

Canadian wildfires cause air quality issues in Waupaca County

As wildfires in Canada persist, air quality health advisories continue sporadically in Wisconsin.

Although local air quality has not experienced the orange haze and hazardous conditions found in the Northeast United States, there have been sporadic alerts here.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued an orange air quality alert for Waupaca County on Wednesday and Thursday, June 14-15.

If a health advisory is issued for the orange level, health officials recommend that at-risk people stay indoors and reschedule or cut back on strenuous outdoor activities.

Asthma, lung ailments and heart diseases are among the health conditions that put people at risk if they venture outdoors during an orange alert.

One air quality criterion resulting from the wildfires is PM2.5, which is fine dust or particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or less in width and can be inhaled into the lungs.

Waupaca County’s PM2.5 concentration level peaked at 46 Wednesday evening, June 14, then began declining on Thursday.

A PM2.5 level of 35.5 to 55.5 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

A measurement that combines PM2.5 data with ozone and other pollutants is the Air Quality Index.

Waupaca County Public Health Officer Jed Wohlt said people who are more sensitive to pollutants in the air should try to stay indoors or cut back on outdoor activities during air quality health alerts.

Wohlt also noted the sporadic nature of the local air quality problem.

“As long as those fires are still going, it could change daily, depending on weather and atmospheric conditions,” Wohlt said.

He recommended keeping apprised of air quality reports from local weather services and going online to www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/air/advisories.htm.

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