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Air quality warning issued for Akron, Northeast Ohio. What to know

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Northeast Ohio is under an air quality warning until midnight Monday.

What causes the poor air quality in the region? A combination of a few things.

Here’s what you need to know.

Air Quality Advisory issued for eight Northeast Ohio counties

The National Weather Service has issued an air quality advisory for ground-level ozone for Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit counties through midnight Monday.

During this time, air quality will be unhealthy for sensitive groups – people with lung diseases such as asthma, children and teenagers, older adults and people who are routinely active outdoors for six or more hours a day.

Why is there an air quality alarm?

The main reason for the warning is ground-level ozone, but a contributing factor is wildfire smoke drifting across the state.

What is ground level ozone?

Ozone is a gas consisting of three oxygen atoms. In the upper layers of the atmosphere, ozone is good and protects the earth from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. But at ground level, ozone is the main ingredient of smog and a harmful pollutant, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ozone is formed at ground level when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, refineries, and chemical plants, among other things, react chemically in the presence of sunlight. According to the EPA, ozone most likely reaches unhealthy levels on warm, sunny days in urban environments and can be carried by the wind, spreading pollution to rural areas.

Smoke from Canadian wildfires drifts into the US

Smoke from wildfires in Canada is drifting into the U.S., creating unhealthy air quality in parts of Montana, Minnesota and Wisconsin last week, according to the fire and smoke map maintained by AirNow.gov, which monitors air quality.

Smoke from those fires is drifting across the Buckeye State and is starting to affect air quality here. According to AirNow’s fire and smoke map Monday morning, Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo all show moderate air quality, with the main pollutant being PM2.5, or particulate matter.

What is particulate matter?

Particulate matter are particles with a diameter smaller than 2.5 microns. For comparison, the average human hair is 50 to 70 microns thick. According to the New York State Department of Health, breathing in unhealthy levels of PM2.5 can increase the risk of heart disease, asthma and low birth weight.

According to the EPA, particulate matter can come from a number of sources. Sources include power plants, cars, construction sites or forest fires such as those in Canada.

Smoke from Canadian wildfires will cause unhealthy air conditions in Ohio and the United States by 2023

Last June, smoke from Canadian wildfires blanketed New York City in an orange haze and made Detroit, Washington DC and New York City among the cities with the worst air quality in the world, USA TODAY reported. Smoke from wildfires drifted as far as Florida.

At the time, Canada had about 220 wildfires “out of control,” according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. That year was the worst for wildfires in Canada, USA TODAY reported, with 6,600 wildfires burning 37 million hectares, about seven times the annual rate. average.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, smoke caused air quality warnings and hazy skies in the Ohio area in June and July. It even forced high school sports teams to reschedule or move practices indoors as school districts adjusted to unhealthy air quality, the Beacon Journal reported.