City Cast

How to Check Chicago’s Air Quality

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on June 12   |   Updated on July 7
A hazy Chicago skylines as seen from an Indiana beach while people frolick in the water

The Chicago skyline from Whiting, Indiana, in 2020. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Tribune / Getty)

While the East Coast emerges from sepia-colored smoke from nearby Canadian wildfires, we’re looking at air quality in Chicago.

First, how has Chicagoland been affected by the wildfires?

The Illinois EPA set off a statewide alert last week, with southern Cook County and Northwest Indiana areas among the most affected areas from both the wildfires and high ozone levels. But we’re back at moderate levels.

A scale shows Chicago's AQI was at a moderate (yellow) level

Chicago’s AQI was at 81 Friday. (EPA’s AirNow)

How do you check air quality?

Search your zip code in this tool to see the EPA’s Air Quality Index, a six-tier scale that represents different levels of pollution. Measured from 0 to 500, the higher the value means the greater the air pollution. Anything above 100 is considered unhealthy.

Chicago’s air pollution was already 💩

Chicago’s South and West sides as well as Northwest Indiana ranked among some of the worst hotspots in the country due to decades of pollutant industries, according to a Guardian analysis. The American Lung Association also ranked the metro area low for its smog and particle pollution.

Hey Chicago

Want to know what's happening in Chicago? Sign up for our free newsletter, Hey Chicago. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.