Breaking News
More () »

Air Quality Alert expires in central Ohio after 3-day advisory

The last time central Ohio experienced unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive groups was in August 2010.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Air Quality Alert issued earlier this week for several central Ohio counties has been lifted as the wildfire smoke from Canada begins to funnel out of the East Coast and Midwest. 

The last time central Ohio experienced unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive groups was in August 2010, according to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.  

The conditions sent asthma sufferers to hospitals, delayed flights, postponed ballgames and even pushed back a White House Pride Month celebration, the AP reported this week. The fires sent plumes of fine particulate matter as far away as North Carolina and northern Europe and parked clumps of air rated unhealthy or worse over the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard.

RELATED: Canada wildfire smoke could sit over US for days without wind

At points this week, air quality in places including New York, the nation’s most populous city, nearly hit the top of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air-pollution scale. Local officials urged people to stay indoors as much as possible and wear face masks when they venture out.

Such conditions are nothing new — indeed, increasingly frequent — on the U.S. West Coast, where residents were buying masks and air filters even before the coronavirus pandemic and have become accustomed to checking air quality daily in summertime. Since 2017, California has seen eight of its 10 largest wildfires and six of the most destructive.

What is the Air Quality Index? 

The AQI scale is the Environmental Protection Agency’s index for reporting air quality and runs from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the health concern. 

When AQI levels reach above 100, air quality is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. The MORPC then issues an Air Quality Alert. 

Tuesday’s rating on the Air Quality Index (AQI scale is 103 and the areas affected by the alert — Franklin, Delaware, Fairfield and Licking counties — are likely to experience particle pollution levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups. 

Who is impacted?

Active children, the elderly, and people with asthma and COPD are more likely to suffer an increase in the number and severity of symptoms during an Air Quality Alert. 

To decrease the potential for health issues, sensitive groups are urged to limit their outdoor activity or plan outdoor activities for the morning. Those who are experiencing breathing difficulties should consult their doctor.

What actions should you take? 

On Air Quality Alert days, MORPC recommends taking action to improve air quality. The majority of particle pollution levels come from vehicle emissions and burning activity.

  • Explore different commute options such as carpooling
  • Turn off your engine instead of idling your vehicle to cut down on vehicle emissions.  
  • Avoid burning wood, leaves, and other materials on Alert days and learn more about best wood-burning practices.   
  • Avoid mowing your lawn or using other gas-powered lawn equipment on an Air Quality Alert Day. Longer grass in your yard is good for the air and water quality.

Before You Leave, Check This Out