Chicago Not Reaping As Much Air-Quality Improvement Amid Shutdown

Sears Tower 2015
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Air quality has improved all over the world as millions of people have been in lockdown. So, what about the air quality in Chicago?

Reports from northern India say the Himalayas are visible there for the first time in 30 years. Los Angeles is less smoggy.

We checked with the Respiratory Health Association, headquartered in Chicago, and asked its director of environmental health programs, Brian Urbaszewski, whether our own city’s pollution was much better.

The short answer? Sort of.

“Chicago’s built a little differently from some other places. If you look in northern Italy, where they’ve had a drop-off in air pollution, if you look at Los Angeles, where there’s been a similar drop-off in air pollution, for those areas the air pollution is a little more localized, more due to just traffic.

“Chicago is flat. We produce a lot of the air pollution we breathe here ourselves — from factories, industry, traffic. But a lot of it blows in from outside, from regional air flow coming from power plants that are perhaps hundreds of miles away.

“There’s a certain amount of background air pollution that’s still out there, even when things tend to slow down here.”

Urbaszewski says even though a lot of local polluters are in lockdown, the air quality here on many days is only “moderate.”