Chicago area under air pollution alert on Thursday

Posted: 7/21/2011

From Chicago Public Radio:

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is warning Chicago-area residents to stay indoors because of pollution levels. The agency has called an air pollution action day and is asking the public to reduce polluting activities like driving or mowing lawns.

Officials say hot, humid weather will cause levels of ozone and fine particles, or soot, to rise to levels that are unhealthy for some people, especially the elderly, children, and those with heart and lung problems. But even active children and adults can be adversely affected.

Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, says that only a full weather front would move the air pollution away from the area.

"Sometimes you get thunderstorms that pop up, and it essentially washes out part of the atmosphere where those storms occur, but you sort of get a swiss cheese effect, where you cleared out little bits of pollution, but the general background pollution is still there and still surrounding the area and blowing into the area," said Urbaszewski. "If you get a front, where essentially, winds come from the north or the west and move everything that’s here out of the way, it takes air pollution with that."

Urbaszewski wasn't sure whether or not the storms expected to sweep through Chicago late Thursday night would help the situation. "Ultimately what we have to do is not rely on the weather to save us; we really have to clean up those ingredients that are causing the problem in the first place," he added.

Today is the second straight day the Chicago area has been under an air pollution alert.

Original here.