New York City has become one of the most polluted cities in the world as smoke from the Canadian wildfires enters the United States.
According to IQAir, which provides real-time air quality information, New York City was ranked at the top along with Kuwait City as the most polluted city as of 4:03 a.m. ET on June 7, with an Air Quality Index (AQI) score at 170, a level classified as “unhealthy.”
By 8:40 a.m. ET, New York was second in the list, with Detroit in the fourth position.
At one point on Tuesday night, the AQI hit 200, a score bordering on the “very unhealthy” level.
“If you’re a New Yorker with heart or breathing issues, be careful when you’re outdoors. Smoke from wildfires in Canada is impacting our city’s air, so an Air Quality Health Advisory has been issued. Try to limit outdoor activities today to the absolute necessities,” the City of New York said in a June 6 Twitter post.
According to AirNow, which reports air quality using the official U.S. AQI, the air quality was tagged as “unhealthy.” The level of PM2.5, tiny particulate matter that is generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller, was at 182 as of 4:45 a.m. ET, a level seen as “unhealthy.”
When inhaled, PM2.5 can travel deep into the lung tissues and eventually enter the bloodstream. PM2.5 has been tied to a number of health issues like heart disease, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses.
Marshall Burke, a professor at Stanford, pointed out in a June 6 Twitter post that the “very high levels” of particulate matter in much of the eastern United States for thousands of miles are at levels “way above normal.” Talking about NYC’s PM2.5 levels on Tuesday, Burke said that “today’s levels are second highest since 2006 in our data.”
Multiple Places Affected, EPA Alert
Other places in the United States like Detroit, Michigan, have also been affected by the smoke coming in from the Canadian wildfires. From the U.S. Northeast to the Midwest and Texas, air quality advisories were issued that affected up to 100 million people across the country.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued an air quality alert for residents in the state on Wednesday owing to the high levels of PM2.5.
“Levels of fine particulates will rise into the unhealthy for sensitive groups category statewide on Wednesday and potentially extend into the evening hours due to wildfire smoke transport from eastern Canadian wildfires,” the agency said in a June 6 Facebook post.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air quality in places like Boston, Providence, and New Bedford is expected to remain at “unhealthy” levels today.
“During the times that significant smoke is in your area, it is recommended that people with pre-existing medical conditions remain indoors with windows closed while circulating indoor air with a fan or air conditioner,” the EPA said in a June 5 alert.
An April 17 post by the American Lung Association highlighted a study of 545 U.S. counties between 2000 and 2007 which found that people had roughly four months added to their life expectancy on average when the air was cleaner.
Smoke Forecast in United States, Fire in Canada
There is uncertainty as to how long the Canadian wildfires will last, and how much the United States will be exposed to smoke. The smoke exposure depends on the direction of the wind.
According to a June 6 analysis by The Washington Post, an “even worse” round of wildfire smoke could move out from southern Canada on Wednesday, driven by a north-to-south moving cold front. As a result, the states of New York and Pennsylvania as well as the Mid-Atlantic region are expected to see “very poor air quality.”
From Friday into Saturday, winds are expected to turn more northwesterly. Though this may not clear out the smoke fully, it can reduce the concentration of fine particulate matter while improving sky conditions and air quality.
According to a June 7 update by the National Weather Service, “hazy conditions are likely to continue through Wednesday evening” in New York.
In Canada, there were 423 active fires as of 6 a.m. ET on June 7, according to data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center. Twenty-six new fires began on Wednesday.
Of the 423 fires, 104 were deemed to be “under control,” 73 were “being held,” and 246 were “out of control.” Canada has seen 2,305 fires year-to-date, with 4 million hectares being burned.
From The Epoch Times