Warm, dry, and sunny conditions, along with increasing drought conditions contributing to increased ground-level ozone
The Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), John J. Kim, is advising residents of Illinois to exercise caution while spending time outdoors, as air quality conditions are projected to be in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” category on Friday, June 2, according to the national Air Quality Index (AQI). The Illinois EPA has issued an air quality forecast of “Orange” or “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” for the entire state on June 2nd.
The primary concern is the formation of ground-level ozone resulting from the reaction of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds emitted by vehicles, power plants, and other industrial sources in the presence of sunlight. Given the current levels of ground-level ozone and anticipated weather conditions, many regions are expected to experience “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” air quality today, with the entire state likely to be affected tomorrow. These conditions pose potential health risks for vulnerable populations, such as individuals with respiratory or pulmonary disorders, as well as active children and adults. Sensitive individuals are advised to take special precautions and adhere to their prescribed medical regimens. All residents should stay cool and limit physical activity during periods of poor air quality. Common symptoms for sensitive groups exposed to low air quality may include coughing or shortness of breath.
To mitigate air pollution, both businesses and residents are strongly encouraged to implement the following measures:
- Utilize public transit, ridesharing, walking, or biking as alternatives to driving.
- Consolidate errands when using personal vehicles.
- Reduce energy consumption.
- Refrain from using gasoline-powered equipment when air quality is elevated.
Since air quality can fluctuate from day to day, the Illinois EPA provides daily air quality forecasts based on the Air Quality Index (AQI) for fourteen sectors across the state. The AQI employs a color-coded system, ranging from Good (Green) to Hazardous (Maroon), to classify air quality levels. To access air quality forecasts, please visit www.airnow.gov. Residents are also encouraged to subscribe for FREE air quality forecasts via email or Twitter at http://illinois.enviroflash.info.
The U.S. EPA has published an Air Quality Guide for Ozone, which can be accessed at: https://www.airnow.gov/sites/default/files/2023-03/air-quality-guide-for-ozone_0.pdf