CHAMPAIGN – Illinois residents woke up to alarming news on Wednesday as air quality throughout the state reached hazardous levels. Champaign ranked as the second-worst in the world for air pollution, with a PM2.5 reading of 235. Chicago, the state’s largest city, has now moved down a peg, classified as “unhealthy,” while the rest of Illinois has been labeled as “very unhealthy.”
As of 5 am, Champaign reported a PM2.5 level of 235, tying with Detroit for the worst air quality in the United States. Kankakee followed closely with a PM2.5 reading of 222, while Chicago recorded 218. The air quality index categorizes these levels as “very unhealthy,” indicating a severe risk to human health.
The situation has prompted health officials to issue advisories and guidelines for residents. People with heart or lung diseases, older adults, children, and teenagers have been strongly advised to avoid any physical activities outdoors. For everyone else, it is recommended to refrain from engaging in strenuous outdoor activities, keep outdoor exposure brief, and consider moving physical activities indoors or rescheduling them. It is crucial to stay updated with local news media for further advisories.
The National Weather Service has extended an air quality alert through Thursday due to the presence of smoke from Canadian wildfires, which has spread across Illinois, Indiana, and the Midwest. The smoke particles have significantly deteriorated the air quality in the region, posing a threat to the health and well-being of residents.
IQAir, an organization that monitors global air quality, reports that Dubai currently holds the unfortunate distinction of having the worst air quality in the world, with an index reading of 352.