SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – People in Massachusetts continue seeing and smelling the aftermath of the massive fires burning in Canada, resulting in unhealthy air quality across the region.
Air quality is a measure of how clean or polluted the air is. It’s measured with the Air Quality Index or AQI. It works like a thermometer that runs from 0 to 500. An AQI under 50 is good. But in the Springfield area on Thursday, the AQI was 169 which is considered “unhealthy.”
“I work on the 14th floor and you can’t see the mountain range,” said Hannah Welsch, who works in downtown Springfield.
The state has several air quality sensors in western Massachusetts, one in Ware near the Quabbin, one at Westover in Chicopee, and one at the State Police Barracks in Springfield.
You can always check the air quality where you live at AirNow.gov.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these sensors track five major air pollutants, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and aerosols.
When the reading reaches 201, the air is considered “very unhealthy.” An AQI over 300 is classified as hazardous, which is what they were experiencing in New York City causing the skyline to fade away in the eerie orange smoke.
Exposure to poor air quality can lead to headaches, irritated eyes, coughing, and difficulty breathing, especially for those with respiratory conditions like asthma. Young children, seniors, and pregnant women are also at a higher risk.
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