The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has issued an Air Pollution Action Day alert for the Chicago Metropolitan area for July 2 and is expecting multiple subsequent alerts due to an extended period of upcoming hot and dry weather conditions, which are conducive to ozone formation.
The alert includes the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Grundy, Lake, McHenry and Will.
Regional air quality is expected to reach the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” category on the national Air Quality Index (AQI) today and extend into the weekend.
Additional Action Day Alerts are expected to be issued as these conditions continue through the Fourth of July weekend and possibly into next week.
An Air Pollution Action Day alert is issued when air quality is expected to be at or above the orange/unhealthy for sensitive groups category at multiple sites for multiple days according to the AQI.
Ground-level ozone is forecasted to be elevated for the next several days, posing a potential health hazard to sensitive populations, including individuals with respiratory or pulmonary disorders, as well as active children and adults.
Sensitive individuals should take special precautions and follow their physician prescribed regimen.
All residents should keep cool and limit physical activity when air pollution levels are high.
In addition to the Air Quality Alert, Illinois officials anticipate higher levels of particulate matter near and downwind of fireworks displays.
Individuals susceptible to elevated fine particulates should take precautions to avoid exposure to fireworks emissions.
Businesses and residents in the region are encouraged to:
• Limit driving – combine errands, walk or bike if possible.
• If driving, avoid idling, consolidate errands and run them after 7 p.m. when sunlight is not as strong.
• Use energy efficient lighting.
• Set thermostats up at least 2 degrees and use a programmable thermostat.
• Turn off and unplug electronics not in use.
• Use environmentally friendly household and cleaning products.
• Use a charcoal chimney or gas grill instead of lighter fluid when grilling.
• Avoid using gasoline-powered equipment like lawnmowers and leaf blowers.
• Do not burn leaves or other yard waste.
• Notify colleagues, friends and family to help protect their health and encourage actions.
Air quality forecasts are available at airnow.gov.