Chicago had the worst air quality in the world Tuesday. Why? Chalk it up to the smoke from Canadian wildfires that has made its way here.
What’s going on
An air quality alert went into effect Tuesday as levels became “very unhealthy.” The EPA’s Air Quality Index measures air quality from 0 to 500: the higher the value means the greater the air pollution.
Earlier this month, New York City’s AQI reached 405 at its peak. Chicago’s AQI crept past 250 Tuesday.
So how do you protect yourself?
The city encouraged adolescents, seniors, pregnant people, and individuals with heart or lung disease to avoid strenuous activities and limit time outdoors. All Chicagoans are encouraged to:
- Break out the masks — the N95s and KN95s
- Limit outdoor exposure (e.g., close your windows, hang inside, etc.)
- Don’t smoke, use vacuums, or light candles
- Limit driving a vehicle
- Run air purifiers
- Take shelter at park districts or libraries
Have a pet? A lot of that guidance applies to them, too.
Make your own DIY air purifier
Since air purifiers can be pricey, you can make your own.
Get a square fan and a HEPA filter of a similar size. Secure the filter tightly to the fan with duct or packing tape — like Wirecutter did.
What else you should know
Conditions are forecasted to improve over the week, according to the National Weather Service. But going into NASCAR and Fourth of July weekend, car emissions and fireworks can make air quality worse.