This is according to air quality monitoring site IQAir, which compared Chicago's air quality with 95 other cities around the world on Tuesday, including Jakarta, Lahore, Beijing and Delhi. The terrible air quality was blamed on the ongoing wildfires in Canada, coating much of Chicago and the surrounding areas in smoke. (Related: Canadian wildfire smoke continues to affect air quality in US cities.)
Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford noted that the worldwide index is essentially an average of the air quality monitors in a city. Nevertheless, factors like time differences and the number of monitors in a city make it hard to use the index as a complete picture.
"But in general, to see cities like Chicago, which don't, citywide, have this kind of perennial problem with air quality, at the top of that list, just gives you an idea of how unusual the conditions are right now," Ford stated.
According to AirNow, a website that links data from county, state and federal air quality agencies nationwide, the air quality index had increased to a level considered "very unhealthy" on Tuesday morning, which means everybody is in danger of experiencing health effects.
Weather officials also released air quality alerts on Wednesday, June 28, for the Great Lakes area and the Lower Mississippi and Ohio valleys.
Zac Adelman, executive director of the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium, said smelling smoke is an instant sign to stay indoors.
"It's very common to see smoke in the atmosphere above us. It's not common to have high concentrations of smoke coming down to the surface like we're experiencing it now," Adelman said.
Adelman added that smoke blows into Chicago "fairly regularly" and "there's somewhere burning in North America at all times."
He also said they will be looking at the event for a long time to figure out what particular dynamics and chemistry caused the smoke to come down to the surface in Chicago.
Adelman went on to say that factors such as atmospheric conditions, how big the fires are and existing air pollutants in the city make it hard to identify exactly why Chicago has such bad air quality, in spite of other cities experiencing similar problems.
Parts of the Northern United States, including around the Great Lakes region, are expected to have poor air quality for "the next few days" thanks to a low-pressure system, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather service is forecasting a low-pressure area that "will tap the ongoing wildfire smoke of south-central Canada" and send it south to the U.S. "in a counter-clockwise flow."
This low-pressure area is expected to most seriously affected northern states, including in the New England region and especially in the Great Lakes, including Illinois.
Residents in these areas are recommended to use indoor air filters to help reduce or remove pollutants, including harmful small particulate matter, and to wear N95-style masks if they have to venture outside.
Follow Pollution.news for more news about the Canadian wildfires affecting America.
Watch the video below to know why the toxic wildfire smoke from Canada is blanketing American cities with dangerous, unhealthy air.
This video is from the Alex Hammer channel on Brighteon.com.