The fires produce fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5. It causes eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation, resulting in decreased lung function and aggravating current health conditions like asthma and heart disease.
According to the EPA, these particulates have caused the air quality index in Mississippi and surrounding states to drop. AirNow, a part of the agency, has two permanent PM2.5 monitor stations in Jackson. As of now, both indicate moderate air quality conditions and recommend limiting outdoor activity for populations sensitive to air pollutants.
But after the fires in Canada die down, other sources of air pollution, like wildfires from other parts of the United States, could again affect air quality for Mississippians. So a question remains: what resources are available to know about upcoming changes air quality?
Air quality notifications
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality recommends receiving air quality notifications through www.enviroflash.info. As part of AirNow, it sends three-day air quality forecasts daily to your phone or email address. In Mississippi, three geographic regions are available: DeSoto County, Jackson, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, though Airnow has permanent PM2.5 monitor stations in Cleveland and Hattiesburg. The EPA’s AirNow mobile app also allows users to quickly check current and forecasted air quality information for protecting their health and planning daily activities. It is available on the App Store and Google Play.
AirNow’s Interactive Maps
AirNow allows Mississippians and all Americans to access data about Air Quality where they live. Its Interactive Map of Air Quality allows those to see levels of different pollutants -including PM2.5- in the atmosphere where they live. AirNow’s Fire and Smoke Map allows those to view fire and smoke patterns and how they affect air quality across North America. Other maps, such as from FireSmoke Canada, is a helpful resource in viewing current and projected smoke and fire patterns across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
AirNow.gov is a one-stop shop for quick access to resources about air quality in your city, access to interactive maps, resources about air quality and environmental safety, and more. It even contains links to live webcam streams of weather conditions across the country, like the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Tennessee or Glacier National Park in Montana. None of the links are for areas within Mississippi. MDEQ also has resources on air quality and pollution for Mississippians to access.