News photo by Steve Schulwitz
A water tower in Alpena stands on the shore of the Thunder Bay River in this November 2022 News file photo.

ALPENA — While IQAir showed satellite data predicting Alpena would have higher air pollution today because of winds carrying smoke and other particles from wildfires in Canada, the haze missed Northeast Michigan entirely, data shows.

According to IQAir, satellite data estimates that air quality in Alpena is at a moderate level. Forecasts show that the next five days will also have moderate air quality.

That comes after unhealthy air conditions on Wednesday that were not safe for people who may be sensitive to pollutants. That could be people with asthma or other respiratory issues. Children and elderly people may also want to be cautious of pollutants.

Amid extremely dry conditions throughout Michigan, a smoky haze blanketed Alpena on Wednesday and Alpena’s air quality level was at 112 air quality index (AQI) on Wednesday night, a number considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Within the past week, Canada and the entirety of the Midwest region, including Michigan, has been experiencing dry weather along with wildfires that have created smoke and other pollutants in the air.

Dan Cornish, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said that, for northern Michigan, this much smoke is uncommon.

“We’re no strangers to smoke coming from some bonfires that people have around here,” Cornish said. “We know how it can get a little bit harder to see with those fires. That’s all pretty typical. What’s different this time around is that these fires are big and so close to the Great Lakes. On top of that, strong winds are carrying some of that smoke down to us.”

Cornish said those fires stem from Ontario and Quebec and that the smoke is starting to slowly go away.

Air quality may be at an adequate level for breathing, but IQAir satellites estimate the concentration of unhealthy particles in the air is well past World Health Organization guideline values. According to WHO, the standard air quality should be one cubic meter of air that contains five micrograms of pollutants.

As of Friday afternoon, Alpena is estimated to be at 21 micrograms of pollutants, four times the amount.

For those who are sensitive to air pollutants, Cornish recommends limiting exercise or any activities outdoors.

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