DEP data shows good news for Glades air quality — except for those darn Canadian wildfires

sugar farm field on sunset time
'The Glades farming communities have excellent air quality throughout the year.'

Aside from this fall’s freak occurrence of Canadian wildfire smoke drifting down into Florida, the Glades region experienced excellent air quality over the past year, according to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Data measuring the air quality in the region during the 2022-23 harvest season and through August 2023 shows 311 out of 335 days, or 92.8% of the time, PM2.5 levels were rated as “good,” the highest rating available.

Measurement of PM2.5 — fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter — helps determine if air quality is safe in the region. The most recent DEP data shows the Glades region falling in the top-rated “good” range (between 0 and 12 PM2.5 per cubic meter) nearly 93% of the time. All remaining days were rated as “moderate,” the next highest category (between 12.1 and 35.4 PM2.5 per cubic meter).

“The Glades farming communities have excellent air quality throughout the year, whether measured during the harvest season, pre-harvest or post-harvest,” said Judy Sanchez, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at U.S. Sugar.

“This has been true year after year, and it once again proves that anti-farming critics are simply wrong about the air in the Glades. Professional-grade air quality monitors in every location also show that good, safe air quality is very consistent throughout the entire region, never falling anywhere near ‘unhealthy’ categories.”

That data includes the period preceding the annual harvest, which was delayed until Oct. 4 this year due to heavy September rains and extremely wet field conditions. As many Floridians experienced, air quality this month was harmed by Canadian wildfire smoke around that time polluting air throughout the state. Readings from the region saw the air rated as “very unhealthy,” the second worst rating available.

“The air pollution readings in the Glades increased alarmingly as smoke from Canadian wildfires settled over our area,” Sanchez said.

That was an anomaly, however, when compared to normal operations within the Glades, as measured by DEP data. “Air quality readings never came close to the ‘unhealthy’ range over the past year covered in this report before, during or after the Glades harvest season,” Sanchez added.

Sugarcane farmers in South Florida typically burn their crops prior to harvest from October to late May, which has prompted concerns from some in South Florida. However, DEP readings consistently show air quality in the region is high.

That’s due in part to those burns being quick and with farmers and environmental officials factoring in weather conditions, helping to ensure any winds won’t cause the burns to impact nearby communities.

Staff Reports


  • just sayin

    October 9, 2023 at 11:24 am

    Wow, so great to have a positive report on air quality in the Everglades. Gosh, I can’t imagine what incentivizes this website to cover such an esoteric story, but I sure am glad you do. Makes me want to go out and buy some American-grown sugar, fresh from the Glades!

  • My Take

    October 9, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    I used to see àn interesting phenomenon with Glades sugarcane fires. The light greyish smoke rising in a column would at altitude trigger the formation of a white cumulus cloud. Maybe getting those fine smoke particles into water droplets helps air quality. I never saw it trigger rain though that I recall.

  • Concern Citizen

    October 9, 2023 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you for covering the FACTS. All of the Sierra Club-loving media outlets refuse to tell the truth. This article cites government data. Just because it doesn’t fit the left/media’s narrative, people refuse to accept the facts.

Comments are closed.


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