Smoky, hazy skies: What does that mean for the air quality?

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- In the last few weeks, you might have noticed the haze and smoke in the air. According to Kelsy Angle, a Meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Springfield states; the smoke and haziness in the sky are from the wildfire and forest fires that are occurring in the western United States and portions of southwestern Canada.

The winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere are of a direction and a strength, which funnels smoke into the sky which travels hundreds of thousands of miles from their source. These two things are allowing smoke is being carried across the Plains and into the southeastern United States.

“You will notice red sunsets for the next few days and potentially even weeks,” Angle stated. “If you are sensitive to the particulates in the air, you will want to limit your time outdoors.”

The Air Quality Index, AQI, describes how healthy the air is outside depending on a few components. The AQI consists of 5 different elements. They are ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Dr. Sadaf Sohrab, a doctor at Mercy hospital who specializes in Pulmonologist notes the one we see that varies is the particulate that is a tiny particle that you see in the air.

This scale ranges from 0-500. The healthy index level is 0-50. Dr. Sohrab says anything above an AQI of 100 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. The groups vulnerable to this level are individuals who have lung disease, asthma, and COPD.

When the index reaches 300, this is unhealthy for all groups. When the index hits 100 or above, that is when the sensitive groups need to be cautious.

Sohrab describes a “bad air day” in which the AQI is at 100 or above. During a “bad air day,” the sensitive groups should avoid going outside and prevent the flare-up. If they have to go outside, limit the time outdoors. The third thing is to wear a mask, especially if it is more particulate matter in the air.

Sohrab states some of her patients believe that masks help because the past year, they have had so few flares up since wearing a mask for COVID-19.

The smoke and haze will continue to impact the Ozarks off and on until the wildfires decrease in size.

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