skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Experts Unclear on Whether Hazardous Air Quality Will Persist This Fall

play audio

Wednesday, August 23, 2023   

By Leah Shephard/for the Kent State-Ohio News Connection Collaboration.

On several days this summer, Ohioans awoke to their homes and neighborhoods shrouded in haze from the smoke of wildfires burning in Nova Scotia, Canada. Experts say it's unclear whether air quality issues will continue into the fall.

The wildfires, which started in May, have since sent much of the eastern United States indoors because of air quality advisories. Bad air quality could cause health problems for vulnerable groups if it persists, experts say.

Sam Rubens, administrator of the Akron Regional Air Quality Management District of Summit County Public Health, said it depends on air flow patterns.

"The smoke stuff, from the fires in Canada," he said. "If they go out, which they're not out right now, they're still burning away, it's all based on the wind. If the wind patterns set up, then the smoke is going to come."

Rubens compared the way the smoke flows to a campfire; the smoke follows the wind.

"The smoke is going somewhere," he said. "And it's going to be affecting someone."

"Air quality in general can affect everybody, even people who have healthy lungs," said Dr. Angela Marko, a pediatric pulmonologist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. "But the main concern is for those who have underlying respiratory conditions. So, for instance, things like asthma or other chronic lung diseases."

Marko said the reason for this is that many people with these conditions already have sensitive airways and lungs, and exposure to bad air quality can trigger their disease processes. She said this can manifest in shortness of breath and asthma flare-ups.

Marko said that while the very young and very old are most affected by bad air quality, everyone is at risk from continuous exposure.

"Over time, we know that air pollution in general. . . is not great for respiratory health in general as we age, if we're continually exposed to it," she said. "And so it can put you at risk into adulthood just for having other respiratory conditions."

Marko said this can manifest in COPD, a chronic lung disease that causes obstructed airways in the lungs, and other lung conditions as an individual ages.

While Northeast Ohio has only had six unhealthy or hazardous air quality days in 20 years, Rubens said three of those have been this summer.

He said that "particulate matter," or the particles in the air that make air quality unhealthy or hazardous, is the main concern of the Summit County health department.

"The reason that we have particulate matter, or ozone, as a pollutant of concern is because there's a level at which you're okay," Rubens said. "That if you breathe in a certain level, it's not going to have a health effect."

He said, though, that those with respiratory problems, chronic ailments and children are at higher risk when breathing in pollutants. That means the threshold is lower for the amount of dangerous air these individuals can breathe in.

Rubens urged Ohioans to stay aware of bad air-quality days as the wildfires still rage.

"Just be aware of what the air quality index is showing," he said.

Woody Woodward, executive director of the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, said the impact has been "minimal" on the Ohio Parks and Recreation. He said that what concerns him most is the effect wildfires and other natural disasters may have on the environment as a whole.

"It's fairly well known that Parks and Recreation has been on the front line in terms of protecting our environment, creating clean, safe spaces for people to recreate but also really working hard to protect our natural resources," Woodward said.

He said prevention is key.

"First and foremost we want to be on the front lines in terms of preventing things from getting worse and also kind of continuing to educate the public about the dangers of climate change and kind of the path that we've headed down," Woodward said. "But also working hard to protect natural resources as we do that."

This collaboration is produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.

get more stories like this via email

more stories
House Bill passed with an overwhelming vote of 94-6, with three abstentions. Its companion, Senate Bill 159, passed unanimously with a vote of 34-0. (Chad Robertson/Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

play sound

The Alabama House and Senate both passed bills this week that would help people resume in vitro fertilization and provide legal protections for provid…


play sound

It's early in the season for wildfires in Nebraska, but dozens of firefighters have already been battling a large wildfire near North Platte for …

Social Issues

play sound

A new report finds some Missouri laws and prospective laws are perceived as discriminatory regardless of their actual intent - and it outlines some bi…

Many transmission projects already follow highway corridors, but depending on the state, policy experts say laws can make it harder to add new power lines along federal interstates. (Adobe Stock)


play sound

By Frank Jossi for Energy News Network.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Minnesota News Connection reporting for the Joyce Foundation-Public News Ser…


play sound

By Claire Carlson, John Upton and Kaitlyn Trudeau for The Daily Yonder.Broadcast version by Mark Richardson for Oregon News Service for the Public …

From book bans to teacher qualifications, a new national report from the Network of Public Education examines the laws and policies that support or undermine each state's public schools and the students who attend them. (Pixabay)

Social Issues

play sound

A new Network for Public Education report grades Florida an "F" for its public school funding. As Florida lawmakers negotiate the state budget in …

Social Issues

play sound

As members of Congress and presidential candidates battle it out over immigration, a group of Nevada leaders and experts dedicated to advancing …

Social Issues

play sound

A bill in Olympia would open access to unemployment while workers are on strike, but time is running out for lawmakers to pass the legislation…


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021