Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability Provides Guidance to Residents as Air Quality Remains at ‘Very Unhealthy’ Levels

Smoke from Canadian wildfires continues to severely impact air quality in Cook County and the region. The County’s air quality is currently at ‘very unhealthy’ levels according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability (DES) warns residents that anyone can get sick from exposure to wildfire smoke, but some people are more sensitive to particle pollution. Adults 65 and older, pregnant people, children and teens as well as people with lung and heart conditions are all sensitive groups who may be more likely to get sick if they breathe in wildfire smoke.

Because air quality is in the very unhealthy range, residents in sensitive groups should avoid all outdoor activities until air quality improves. Everyone else should avoid long or intense activities outdoors. Residents should use this guidance to protect their pets’ health as well.

Symptoms from breathing in particle pollution from wildfire smoke can include irritation of eyes, nose, and throat, chest tightness, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Residents who have asthma should follow their asthma control action plans or contact their health care provider if they experience symptoms. Those with heart disease who experience these symptoms, should contact their health care provider.

DES recommends that residents reschedule or shorten outdoor activities or choose less intense activities. The department also reminds residents that when particle pollution is high outdoors, it can be high indoors.

“Air cleaners and HEPA filters on HVAC systems can help to reduce particle pollution in your home,” said DES Director Deborah Stone. “Run your air conditioner if you have one and avoid running vacuums which stir up dust.”

For the latest air quality information, visit


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