How are Canada’s wildfires impacting air quality in Jackson?

Image from WLBT's Downtown Jackson Skycam
Image from WLBT's Downtown Jackson Skycam(WLBT)
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 4:59 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Air quality in Jackson has dropped off, in part, thanks to the wildfires in Canada.

As of Thursday afternoon, air quality in the Jackson metro area was at 108 AQI.

AQI is the Air Quality Index, according to The higher the number, the higher the pollution level, the website states.

A 108 AQI places the city’s air quality in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” category, meaning it could impact people with asthma and other lung diseases, states.

Jackson’s AQI has risen steadily since 9 p.m. Wednesday, when the index was at 50 and air quality was classified as “good.”

Around 3 p.m., on Thursday, the presence of fine particulate matter, along with ground-level ozone, pushed air quality into the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” category.

“It’s kind of a two-fold effect right now. We had the particulates from the wildfires and then also, we’ve had this drier air mass over the Mid-South and the Southeast, helping to contribute ozone formation,” said Rodney Cuevas, meteorologist for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Cuevas says ozone comes from vehicular emissions and other pollutants and will drop off as the sun sets.

“That particular pollutant is short-lived because once the sun starts to go down, those ozone levels will drop off,” he said.

As for other particulates, which include smoke from the wildfires, Cuevas says future weather patterns will likely determine how quickly they dissipate.

“One is getting control of the fires and the second aspect is the weather patterns that are driving the smoke into the United States,” he said. “We have this blocking pattern. This blocking pattern in the upper levels right now [that’s] continuously driving smoke down into the northeast United States... and all the way down here in the Southeast.”

“Until we see a pattern change, we’re going to be under the influence of this smoke.”

Air quality in Jackson June 7-8AQI indexCategoryPollutant
6 p.m.61ModerateOzone
9 p.m.50GoodFine particulate matter
12 a.m.56ModerateFine particulate matter
3 a.m.58ModerateFine particulate matter
6 a.m.61ModerateFine particulate matter
9 a.m.64ModerateFine particulate matter
12 p.m.74ModerateFine particulate matter
3 p.m.101Unhealthy for Sensitive GroupsOzone

Cuevas says people with asthma, COPD, bronchitis, or other breathing difficulties should take note.

“Don’t spend a great amount of time,” he said. “Just be sure to limit yourself.”

NBC News reported on Thursday that approximately 123 million people across the country were under air quality alerts due to smoke coming off of some 400 wildfires. For a time, New York City had the worst air quality in the world as a result.

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