Air quality improves after smoke fills the sky - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Air quality improves after smoke fills the sky

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TOMAHAWK (WAOW) --  Many parts of Wisconsin are still experiencing that smokey haze from the Minnesota wildfires.

That smoke has reached as far as Chicago and the wildfire has swallowed up to 100,000 acres of forest.  The U.S. Forest Service says they do expect calmer winds to slow the fire's growth.

In our area, air quality has improved since Tuesday's smokey smell.  But, just because you can't smell it, doesn't mean it isn't there.

Health officials say the smokey air can lead to health problems.  People who suffer from asthma or respiratory problems can experience breathing issues or shortness of breath.

"They should avoid going out doors, keep their windows closed, use their air conditioners, and limit physical activity," Environmental Health and Safety Director Dale Grosskurth says.

Leaders at Tomahawk High School say they were ready to take those precautions.  After a school wide note was sent out informing staff and students to be careful, administration held a meeting to make sure gym classes and after school outside activities were aware of possible problems.

But, it didn't stop the Tomahawk High football team from hitting the field.  Before going out on the field, Head Coach John Larson had a sit down with his team.

"We told them all if they needed to take a break to let one of us know and if they felt like they couldn't practice, we did not force them," Larson said.

And gym classes were no different.

"We take the same precautions, we had a talk with everyone but it didn't stop us from doing the activity, which was biking," Larson said. (He is also a physical education teacher at the high school).

But not all the students headed outside. Those with medical history of asthma or breathing related problems were told to stay inside, just to be safe.

With the changing winds, health officials say the smoke could come back, so you can never be too careful.

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