Genesee County, MI—Genesee County is once again under a state alert as smoke from Canadian wildfires are affecting the county’s air quality. 

On Tuesday, June 27, 2023, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) issued a statewide air quality advisory, which covers Genesee County, from Tuesday into Wednesday, June 28. 

Jim Haywood, a senior meteorologist in EGLE’s Air Quality Division, advises the public to stay indoors as much as possible with fan filtration running. If it’s necessary to be outdoors, he also recommended avoiding strenuous activity. 

According to a Tuesday notification from the Michigan EnviroFlash program, which provides air quality information to the public, concentrations of fine particulate, or PM 2.5, are even higher than values from early June when the first round of PM 2.5 alerts were issued. 

“One of the primary health concerns is the impact of tiny particles that can reach the smallest areas of your lungs,” Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), said in a recording posted on Tuesday. “These are called PM 2.5. These small particles can impact even healthy lungs, but certain individuals are at even higher risk.”

She added that those higher risk individuals include people with underlying heart or lung disease, the population of younger individuals, older adults and people who are pregnant.

According to Haywood, fires near Quebec affecting Michigan air quality are much bigger compared to those earlier in June. At the time, he noted that wildfires impacting air quality in the state were between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, Ontario.

“The fires near Sault Ste Marie, a couple weeks ago, pale in size and magnitude to these fires,” Haywood said in an email on Tuesday. “Unfortunately it looks like some of the thickest of the plume is over West Michigan, right now, along with Flint.”

In Flint, Mich., the air quality index indicates that the city’s PM 2.5 index value is 219, which is in the very unhealthy range, as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The index runs to 500, with values 301 and above considered hazardous range.

Below is a guide for steps to be taken by the public at various ranges of the air quality index for particle pollution.

A screenshot of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guide for air pollutants. (Image courtesy of the EPA)

According to Haywood, smoke currently seen in Michigan “is more from the fire area near Quebec that caused so many problems for New York and Pennsylvania a couple weeks ago. A change in the weather pattern is bringing it to us, instead.”

The EGLE meteorologist added that weather pattern is forecasted to change on Thursday, June 29, and “hopefully, that will be the end of the smoke advisories.”

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...

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