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Canadian wildfire smoke creates hazy skies and unhealthy air quality across Kentucky

 Hazy skies over downtown Louisville on June 28, 2023.
Justin Hicks
Hazy skies over downtown Louisville on June 28, 2023.

Much of Kentucky woke up to hazy skies and unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke rolling in from Canada on Wednesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality index showed Louisville, Lexington, northern Kentucky and Owensboro with an “unhealthy” level of airborne pollution on Wednesday.

The Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet requested an air quality alert for the entire state, set to last until at least midnight Thursday.
According to the National Weather Service, “everyone” may experience negative health effects from the event, but sensitive groups are especially at risk.

“Sensitive groups include the elderly … children … persons with asthma or other breathing problems … and persons with lung and heart disease. People in these groups are advised to greatly limit their outdoor activities to reduce their exposure to ozone and particulate pollution,” the NWS alert stated.

Sensitive groups include pregnant people, children, the elderly and people with conditions like respiratory illnesses.

Smoke has drifted over much of the northern United States and even Europe as at least 490 fires continue to burn across Canada, with more than 250 considered “out of control.” Cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Cincinnati also currently have "unhealthy” air quality according to the EPA.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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