Afternoon Edition: May 17, 2022

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Xavier Roman, Operations Specialist JCDecaux works on fixing Microsoft sensors used to test air quality on a bus shelter, on April 20, 2022.

Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high near 66 degrees. Tonight will see increasing clouds with scattered showers and a low near 53. Tomorrow will be cloudy with showers likely and a high near 67 degrees.

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Afternoon Edition

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Top story

The dangers in our air: Mapping Chicago’s air pollution hotspots

In one of the most wide-scale surveys of air quality in Chicago, some stretches of Little Village were found to have the highest pollution levels in the city, along with portions of Austin, Englewood, Auburn Gresham, Irving Park and Avondale that see heavy traffic or are near industrial areas, an analysis of readings from newly installed air sensors show.

The data is supplied by Microsoft, which consulted with the city and community groups before installing 115 of the sensors mostly on CTA bus shelters last summer, and has been collecting readings from them every five minutes over the past 10 months.

Even with more than 100 sensors, it’s not nearly enough to cover the entire city and that inhibits a complete analysis of pollution for large swaths of the Southeast and Far South sides — areas long known to have poor air quality. Still, the data provide some of the most extensive hyperlocal measurements of air quality in Chicago, specifically in the high-pollution months of July through October 2021.

An analysis from the Chicago Sun-Times, WBEZ and MuckRock found that the worst air pollution levels among areas with sensors were recorded from July to October last year near the following locations:

  • Along 26th Street near Central Park and California avenues, and near the intersection of California Avenue and Cermak Road in Little Village;
  • At two locations along streets near the Kennedy Expressway in Irving Park and Avondale;
  • At six locations in Austin, with the highest near a bus stop at Chicago and Cicero avenues;
  • And along Halsted Street near 74th Street in Englewood and 87th Street in Auburn Gresham.

Residents who live in these areas are exposed to high levels of air pollution known as particulate matter 2.5 – tiny material made up of many chemicals and other contaminants – that can lodge deep in the lungs and cause serious health problems. The pollutants measure 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, which make them a fraction of the diameter of a human hair.

Smarth Gupta, Dillon Bergin, María Inés Zamudio, Charmaine Runes and Brett Chase have more from their investigation into the city’s air pollution here.

More news you need

  1. The Chicago area has the third-highest level of PM2.5 (that dangerous air pollution mentioned in the story above) from diesel in the country after the Los Angeles and New York City areas. An estimated 5% of all premature deaths here can be attributed to PM2.5. Maggie Sivit has more on why air pollution is so hazardous to our health.
  2. A 7-year-old boy suffered a graze wound after a gun was unintentionally discharged inside a classroom at Walt Disney Magnet School this morning. A student brought the gun in a backpack to the school, police said.
  3. A suspect in the shooting of a culinary student in Lincoln Park was himself shot four days later near “The Bean” sculpture, then escaped from a hospital and was finally arrested at his home over the weekend. The 19-year-old has been charged with attempted murder and armed robbery. In all, he is accused of five armed robberies in Lincoln Park, Lake View, Edgewater and Uptown.
  4. Federal prosecutors have made the rare move of seeking dismissal of a three-year-old drug indictment following testimony from a former Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor who said drugs in Chicago are “typically trafficked by Latino people.” The comments seemed to stun defense attorneys and catch the attention of U.S. District Judge John Blakey, who on Friday agreed to toss charges pending since 2019 against four people.
  5. A group of Phillips Academy High students has embarked on a social media project featuring photos of school lunches, taking a creative approach to complaints surrounding the quality and quantity of CPS food. With the help of their teacher, the students take high-res, highly produced photos of the meals that aim to be nice to look at, but full of irony.
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A bright one

With Harris Theater show in sight, South Chicago Dance Theatre growing by leaps and bounds

If you have never heard of the South Chicago Dance Theatre, it’s not surprising.

The company was formed just five years ago, and founder and executive artistic director Kia S. Smith admits that public recognition has not always kept up with its explosive growth.

But that should change substantially on Friday — when the company presents its first performance at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, one of the city’s leading arts venues.

Members of the South Chicago Dance Theatre rehearse at the Hyde Park School of Dance for the upcoming “An Evening with the South Chicago Dance Theatre: Celebrating Five Years.”|

Members of the South Chicago Dance Theatre rehearse at the Hyde Park School of Dance for the upcoming “An Evening with the South Chicago Dance Theatre: Celebrating Five Years.”

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The program, titled “An Evening with South Chicago Dance Theatre: Celebrating Five Years,” features five world premieres by a varied group of choreographers, including Smith, who was a 2021 choreography fellow at Jacob’s Pillow, a prestigious dance festival and school in Becket, Mass.

The Chicago native imagined running her own dance company since she was a child, and she was finally able to that make that dream a reality in 2017.

The still-young organization does not yet have its own quarters. For now, it is in residence at the Hyde Park School of Dance, which has provided space for a couple of years on an in-kind basis.

“That’s where I trained in high school,” Smith said. “That’s kind of like my dance family.”

Kyle MacMillan has more on South Chicago Dance Theatre here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What do you think of Mayor Lightfoot’s decision to impose an earlier curfew for unaccompanied minors in Chicago?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What’s your favorite restaurant chain in the Chicago area?

Here’s what some of you said…

“I’m going through a serious Potbelly phase right now. I love their Turkey & Swiss Cheese sandwich, and their milkshakes are the best.” — Chris Vaughn

“Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants. Good food, great wine and good service for both dining in or carry out.” — Amit Bhambri

“Cozy Corner is a great breakfast chain.” — Craig Barner

“Easy — Giordano’s. I really love their pizzas. Also, they have great Caesar salads.” — Matt Conlon

“Portillos and Lou Malnati’s without a doubt, hands down. Best beef sandwiches and best pizza!” — Rhona Cohen Ruble

“Buona Beef. You can get their beef in different ways. Also great chicken sandwiches and pasta salad.” — Linda Lewandowski

“Harold’s Chicken — best overall. White Castle — best fast food/affordable. Golden Nugget — best 24-hour.” — Kyle Schneider

“Harry Caray’s. Great food, great memorabilia — awesome pictures of all the celebrities that have been there.” — Rich Ladendorf

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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