Mid-Michiganders hospitalized for poor air quality

Lansing almost 100 units higher than the minimum air quality alert level
Mid-Michigan health experts said Tuesday’s poor air quality is even sending people to the hospital
Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 6:43 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Mackinac Bridge was completely obscured Tuesday because of the Canadian wildfires.

Related: Air Quality Alert Day: More smoke from Canadian wildfires affecting Michigan’s air quality

Mid-Michigan health experts said Tuesday’s poor air quality is even sending people to the hospital

Michigan’s Air Quality Division said Tuesday is the first time it has issued a statewide alert. The alert has already been extended through Wednesday. They also said this summer is the first time they’ve ever issued warnings for smoke.

Last week’s alerts mostly impacted people with conditions like asthma and COPD, but this week is a different story. Experts tell News 10 this smoke impacts everyone.

If you click on this map, you’ll see what’s used by state officials to issue air quality alerts. You’ll see that Mid-Michigan is sitting in that unhealthy red range, while the Grand Rapids area is in the very unhealthy purple range. Experts tell News 10 that this is a change from last week when we were experiencing less severe yellow and orange levels.

“It’s usually been like this county here, that county there, just by a county basis but today we’re like nope, it’s gonna be statewide,” said Alec Kownacki, an EGLE Air quality Meteorologist.

Mid-Michiganders are breathing in smoke that’s traveled all the way from Canada’s wildfires.

“We’ve had quite a few admissions to the hospital, for exacerbations of COPD and asthma,” said Dr. Tressa Gardner, Medical Director for McLaren Greater Lansing’s Emergency Department.

McLaren recommends staying inside, wearing a mask, and staying away from strenuous exercise. Mild symptoms of poor air quality include watery eyes, heightened allergies, runny nose, watery eyes, and coughing. More severe symptoms can include wheezing, trouble breathing, and a tightening in your chest. If you experience more severe symptoms, it’s best to seek medical help.

Air quality alerts are issued when pollutant levels reach 35.5. On Tuesday, Mid-Michigan’s pollutant concentration is 132.2, almost 100 units higher than the minimum alert level. In the Grand Rapids area, it’s even higher at 226. Conditions that are not ideal for being outside.

“It’s definitely has been different, it feels like moving through soup kind of, like breathing is definitely a different experience,” said Penelope Hurtado, a student studying in East Lansing for the summer.

While it may not be as noticeable for those with healthy lungs, health experts say to keep an eye out for tightening in your chest.

“Michigan does get impacted by wildfire smoke, it’s just more so in the upper atmosphere, whereas now it’s right at the surface, impacting us day by day,” said Kownacki.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture said air quality affects your pets, just like it affects you. Animals should follow similar safety measures, such as staying inside and avoiding strenuous activities.

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