Fires in Canada cause record pollution in New York and parts of the US

Skyline of New Yprk contaminated by the fires in Canada.  (Reuters)

In the eastern United States, millions of people faced unsanitary air quality conditions Tuesday due to smoke from the wildfires that spread from eastern Canada to much of the country. An air quality advisory was in effect Tuesday for several regions of New York state. Air monitoring stations showed unhealthy-for-all measurements in some parts of the Big Apple.

This was the second day in a row of hazy skies over a wide area of ​​the country. Smoke covered the landscape from the Ohio Valley to the southern Carolinas on Monday. On Monday, air quality advisories were issued in southeastern Minnesota and parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as well as more than 60 Wisconsin counties. Growing air pollution comes from wildfires that have devastated the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia.

“A band of smoke from the Quebec wildfires will continue to persist in east central and southeast Minnesota today due to very light winds,” the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency tweeted Monday. They added that air quality is expected to improve at night as storms help disperse the smoke particles.

Canada is experiencing one of the worst starts to the wildfire season never registered. According to federal officials, more than 6.7 million acres of land have already been consumed by fire in the country this year.

In Quebec, around 14,000 people have been forced to evacuate and more than 150 fires are still burning in the province, according to CBC News. In Nova Scotia, authorities reported Sunday that one wildfire had been contained, but another, covering nearly 100 square miles, continued to burn out of control.

However, the United States is also being affected by conditions conducive to wildfires. The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center warned Tuesday that “dry thunderstorms,” ​​a common trigger, could spark fires in the Mid-Atlantic. Gusts of wind could spread these fires and make them difficult to control.

In the last days, smoke from the fires has reached the northeastern United States and settled in the Midwest. Alerts warning of elevated air pollution levels have been issued in all regions, especially for “sensitive groups,” which include children, older adults, and people with asthma and other pre-existing respiratory conditions.

Air pollution caused by smoke from wildfires has become a significant health risk in the United States, and it’s getting worse. According to researchers at Stanford University, the number of people who have experienced at least one day of poor air quality due to smoke has increased 27-fold in the last decade.

Tiny particles in smoke, which are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (about 4% of the diameter of an average human hair), are a cause for concern for air quality experts. These particles can be inhaled and cause cardiovascular problems, according to Brett Palma scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Palm noted that the situation unfolding in the Midwestern United States highlights the long-term risks of wildfires, especially as climate change is leading to hotter and drier conditions, increasing the likelihood and severity of these. fires when they occur.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, along with partner agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, maintains an interactive air quality data map called AirNow, which allows users to see the location of active fires. and assess local conditions and risks.


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