FW: Wisconsin Receives First Statewide Air Quality Health Advisory, More Likely
- DNR has extended the air health advisory it issued Wednesday to be
effective Thurday and through Friday 3:00 PM.
--------- Forwarded message ----------
Madison Independent Media Center - Health News
Wisconsin Receives First Statewide Air Quality Health Advisory, More
Likely, Unless ... ?
by Michael T. Neuman
02 Feb 2005
Summary: The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued its first
statewide air health advisory on Tuesday, February 1, which remained
effective through Wednesday, February 2, until 3:00 PM. It was the
combination of moist, warm air with stagnant weather conditions,
together with the input of particulate emissions from power plants,
motor vehicle operation and other fuel burning sources, that led to
the Orange level health advisory, according to DNR's Larry Bruss of
DNR Air Management.
"We we can expect to see many more air quality health advisories in
Wisconsin in the future if we do reduce motor vehicle emissions,
along with the millions of tons of coal burned in power plants", said
Mike Neuman of the Madison area Preserve Our Climate Coalition.
Increased greenhouse gas emissions from additional sources of fossil
fuel burning in the state is likely to contribute to accelerated
global warming, which could possibly increase the potential for air
quality health advisories in the Midwest even more, Neuman said.
Text: The advisory determination issued this week by the DNR was based
the presence of persistently elevated levels of fine particles in the
air, recorded at seven air quality monitoring stations located around
An Orange level health advisory means the outdoor air on those days
is considered "unhealthy for sensitive groups". "Sensitive groups"
include people with heart or lung disease, asthma, older adults and
People with either lung disease or heart disease are considered to be
at greater risk from exposure to fine particle pollution, and are
advised to reduce prolonged or heavy exertion and be cautious of
respiratory symptoms like coughing, wheezing and discomfort when
taking a breath.
The fine particles in the air come primarily from combustion sources,
such as car exhaust, fireplaces and wood stoves, factories and other
sources, and consist of a mixture of solids and liquid droplets which
are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. The particles are so small
they can only be detected with an electron microscope, and because
they are so small, they can get into the lungs, potentially causing
serious health problems, thus considered unhealthy for sensitive
On Wednesday at 3:00 PM, the DNR extended the Orange level health
advisory through Thursday until 3:00 PM for all Wisconsin counties
except for the southeastern part of the state, which includes
Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington
and Waukesha. By Wednesday afternoon, air quality conditions in
southeastern Wisconsin had improved enough for a "Yellow"
determination to be made for the southeastern counties, signifying
a "moderate" level of concern - but not polluted enough to continue
the health advisory.
DNR uses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s measurement
called the "Air Quality Index" (AQI) to make Wisconsin's air quality
health advisory determinations. AQI's are identified for five major
air pollutants: ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon
monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. This week's air
pollution levels in Wisconsin were above the levels considerate as
moderate particle pollution.
For each of these pollutant designations, EPA has established
national air quality standards ranging from an air quality index
value of zero to 500. Air quality testing out at an AQI of 0 to 50 is
considered "Good" (Green); an AQI of 51 to 100 is
considered "Moderate" (Yellow); an AQI of 101 to 150 is
considered "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" (Orange); an AQI of 151
to 200 is considered "Unhealthy" (Red); an AQI of 201 to 300 is
considered "Very Unhealthy"(Purple); and an AQI of 301 to 500 is
considered "Hazardous" (Maroon).
AQI values reported at the various stations located around the state
by Wednesday afternoon were as follows: Sommerset: 133; Manitowoc:
116; Mayville (Dodge Co.): 119; Devil's Lake: 131; Green Bay: 144;
Perkin's Township (Clark Co.): 139. The air quality monitoring
station nearest Madison is the Devil's Lake station, which had an AQI
value of 131 on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in the Midwest, EPA reported air quality alerts were issued
this week for many areas of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, Maine, and statewide in Minnesota. The stagnant weather
conditions that helped bring on these conditions are expected to
persist over the central and eastern United States through the end of
the work week, EPA said. Air quality conditions are expected to
gradually improve from west to east over the weekend.
Unfortunately, we can expect to see many more air quality health
advisories in Wisconsin in the future if we do reduce motor vehicle
emissions, along with the millions of tons of coal burned in power
plants. "Current state and local highway and airport construction
plans in Wisconsin envision significant increases in the numbers of
motor vehicle miles traveled in the state and Wisconsin utilities
have several new coal-fired power plants planned and on-line which
will add more fine particles to air", said Mike Neuman of the Madison
area Preserve Our Climate Coalition.
"Increased greenhouse gas emissions from these additional sources of
fossil fuel burning in the state is also likely to contribute to
accelerated global warming, which will increase the potential for air
quality health advisories in the Midwest even more", Neuman said.
It should be recognized, also, that African American and Hispanic
populations are known to suffer disproportionately from asthma,
according to the American Lung Association's recent report "Lung
Disease Data in Culturally Diverse Communities: 2005". This means
that air pollution health advisories are likely to most onerous upon
these populations, which warrants particular attention from
government because of the clear inequities increased level of
pollution bring to bear on Wisconsin's African-American and Hispanic