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Health, Science & Environment

Air quality alert issued as central Ohio is immersed in 'heat dome'

The Columbus, Ohio skyline seen from the WOSU Public Media headquarters.
George Shillcock
Columbus, Ohio is under an air quality alert for June 20, 2024. The AQI is forecast to be over 100.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission issued an air quality alert for Thursday for much of central Ohio.

MORPC said the region will likely have unhealthy levels of ozone for people who are sensitive to bad air quality. The air quality alert comes as much of the Ohio Valley is under a heat dome with temperatures hovering in the mid-90s.

The region under this alert includes Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin and Licking counties.

MORPC said children, the elderly and people with asthma and COPD are more likely to suffer severe symptoms during air quality alerts. The agency said these groups should limit their time outside except in the morning.

These types of alerts are issued when the air quality index (AQI) breaches 100. Tomorrow’s AQI is forecasted to be 101.

Last year, central Ohio and much of the country experienced AQI above 200 in some cases as smoke from Canadian wildfires exacerbated air quality levels.

A disputed report last year claimed Columbus had the highest concentration of the “worst” type of air pollution, known as PM 2.5. The Ohio EPA and MORPC pushed back on that assertion.

MORPC said the AQI scale runs from 0 to 500 and the higher the AQI value, the greater the health concern.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.