Wildfires from West Coast and Canada lead to air quality issues in La Crosse County

Poorer air quality is leading to concerns for people who have respiratory or heart-related conditions

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – If you’ve noticed some more haze throughout our area, you’re not the only one.

The hazy sky is coming from wildfires on the West Coast and in Canada, and is causing an air quality alert in the area.

“Oh yes, I’ve noticed that in the evening when the sun goes down,” Renee Gruen said, who is biking through La Crosse. “There’s haze in front of it.”

Gruen has noticed it’s a little bit harder to breathe biking through La Crosse right now.

“I can breathe fine,” Gruen said. “I just know it’s there.”

The poor air quality is not a big concern for Gruen, but Gundersen Health System allergist Dr. Todd Mahr says it is for people with respiratory or heart conditions.

“It puts more stress on their availability of getting oxygen in a good way when they’re outside,” Mahr said.

Mahr says La Crosse County is under a moderate air quality index level.

It doesn’t affect the health of most people, but they may notice the change.

“Right now, even people who don’t have heart disease or cardiac problems, might find it irritating,” Mahr said. “The timing of this is horrible too because this is also peak summer.”

Mahr says changes in wind direction determines where the smoke from these wildfires go.

It has even stretched as far as New York City.

“So it’s pretty scary how all of this stuff moves through,” Mahr said.

There is a possibility the air quality can get worse if there’s wildfires around here.

“It would be horrible if we got any of our own started up in here because we’re in a drought,” Mahr said.

Mahr says he doesn’t think it will get to that point, but he suggests we keep our guard up and be aware of what’s in the sky.

He says he doesn’t know exactly when this air quality alert is going to end because that depends on the wildfires.

But he says they haven’t been letting up, so we will likely be having some hazy skies here for a while.

Symptoms of poor air quality are generally respiratory.

Those with heart problems could even feel chest pain.

But symptoms should die down once you go inside.