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Poor air quality continues to plague parts of the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley from thick wildfire smoke that was sent southward into those regions from Canada.

H​ere's where the worst air quality is right now. Unhealthy to very unhealthy air is blanketing the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley this morning, as the data in map below from shows.

T​hat includes Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and St. Louis.

Y​ou can track the real-time air quality for your area at this link.


How to know w​hat air quality levels are bad. Air quality levels can top 300, but anything over 100 can start causing issues for people more at risk, like those with asthma or lung disease, children and the elderly.

Air quality levels over 150 can start causing problems even for healthy people.

L​evels over 200 are considered "very unhealthy" and start exacerbating health issues in all people.

O​nce levels top 300 they are considered "hazardous" to everyone.

W​ildfire smoke contains tiny pollutants known as particle matter (PM 2.5) that can get into your lungs and bloodstream once inhaled.

The smoke can trigger serious health problems. T​his smoke is particularly bad for you and can cause coughing, shortness of breath, increased heart rate and other immediate effects, even in healthy people. It can also aggravate chronic heart and lung conditions, increase the risk of stroke and heart attack, damage vital organs and shorten a person’s lifespan.

Follow these helpful tips to stay safe amid the pollution.

A​ir quality has ranked among some of the worst on record since Tuesday. I​mages of a smoke-filled Chicago skyline filled up social media as residents woke up Tuesday morning, and IQAir's live rankings had Chicago as the major city with the worst air quality worldwide. Minneapolis and Detroit also ranked unusually high due to the wildfire smoke filling the air across the region.

(​MORE: Air Pollution May Increase Risk Of Dementia, Analysis Finds)

An air quality station near Waukesha, Wisconsin, shattered the Milwaukee metro's record highest air quality reading since records began in 1980.

"Tuesday would normally be a perfect summer day of weather here in the western Great Lakes. Weak high pressure, low humidity and highs near 80 degrees," said senior meteorologist Jon Erdman, who lives in southern Wisconsin. "Instead, I couldn't see a hint of blue sky outside my front door Tuesday morning, and the smoke smell is as strong as I can recall from other Canada smoke episodes in recent years."

Low pressure funneled the smoke into the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley. The counterclockwise flow around a low-pressure system pushed the surface-based smoke southward into the Great Lakes from Canada's Quebec province amid what has been the country's worst year for wildfires since record-keeping began.

A similar setup filled the New York City skyline and much of the Northeast with smoke earlier this month.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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