Smoke from the fire at Access records at 1200 Humbracht Circle in Bartlett has turned northbound with a wind shift from the southwest between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. Saturday, February 5, 2022. That means the northwest suburbs are more likely to smell the fire, and be affected by pollutants.
The warehouse fire consisting of paper records, media plastic and steel racks contents has been burning for over 48 hours this Saturday morning. The fire began about 10:00 a.m. Thursday, but became destructive to the building while releasing a much greater amount of smoke into the atmosphere beginning about 3:40 p.m. Thursday, February 3, 2022.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) has presented slightly poorer measurements on Saturday, February 5, 2022, according to the EPA. Particulate matter has reached Index Values in the 51 to 100 range, which produces a YELLOW ALERT (Moderate level of concern). The YELLOW ALERT is associated with Air Quality that is considered acceptable; however, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
The AQI at 9 AM Saturday was worse in the northwest suburbs of Chicago than the area near Midway International Airport and the area near Gary, Indiana.
The poorest AQI was indicated in the 9AM hour with an AQI of 85. At 10 AM the AQI was 71, and at 11 AM and 12 PM the AQI was 62. The pollutant was identified as PM2.5, which is a term for fine particles, or particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width.
Particles in the PM2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. According to the New York State Department of Public Health, scientific studies have linked increases in daily PM2.5 exposure with increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, emergency department visits and deaths. Studies also suggest that long term exposure to fine particulate matter may be associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease. People with breathing and heart problems, children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to PM2.5.
Northwest Central Dispatch System yesterday alerted on social media (Facebook post) that some service areas were reporting a burning smell.
“Burning smells have been reported in some of our service areas such as Higgins Rd and Roselle Rd (Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg.) The fire department has determined this smell is wafting from the fire in Bartlett.”
Friday afternoon the air had sort of a plastic burning smell, as if some type of construction was occurring in the neighborhood.
On Friday, February 4, 2022 wind was from the southwest about 10 to 16 MPH with gusts to 23 MPH. Then shifted back from the northwest.
On Saturday, the smell was a little worse, and people with sensitive palates may even “taste” the air or have a sort of aftertaste after exposure to the smoke-filled air.
Today (Saturday) there is going be a longer period with winds from the southwest. Today’s wind shift from the southwest that began between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. will persist until about 7:00 p.m. Sunday.
Winds will be gusting from the southwest up to about 30 MPH from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The elevated particulate matter in the air that has caused the YELLOW ALERT (Moderate) may be caused by an inversion (in weather terms), which is not caused by the fire. An inversion means that a layer of relatively warm air aloft, usually several thousand feet above the ground, suppresses lower level air escape and prevents dispersal of air pollution into the upper atmosphere. Temperature inversions are caused by a warm air layer capping a cooler air layer below. This weather inversion can cause poor AQI levels in Chicagoland and other metropolitan areas.
Since smoke from fires is a collection of airborne particulates, liquid droplets, and gases emitted from the products of combustion; the Bartlett fire isn’t helping the quality readings for AQI because it is contributing particulate matter to the lower level air trapped in the inversion. An Inversion is also known as a Cap.
According to the website IQ Air the PM2.5 concentration was as high as 6.4 times above the WHO annual air quality guideline value.
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CARDINAL NEWS | Warehouse Fire at Access Documents Storage Facility on Humbracht Circle Bartlett
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