Smoke from wildfires in eastern Canada drifted across much of the country on Tuesday, leaving millions of people in the eastern United States facing unhealthy air quality.
Air pollution advisories were issued for several areas of New York state on Tuesday.Air-monitoring stations were set up in some areas on Tuesday afternoon New York City has laid out measures that are considered unhealthy for everyone.
On the second day, the skies were cloudy over large parts of the country. On Monday, smoke blanketed the landscape from the Ohio Valley all the way south to Carolina. Air pollution advisories were issued Monday for parts of southeastern Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as well as more than 60 counties in Wisconsin.
The surge in air pollution is due to wildfires raging in Canada’s provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia. `
“The smoke band from the Quebec wildfires will remain in central and southeastern Minnesota today due to very light winds.” The Minnesota Pollution Control Department tweeted Monday added that air quality should improve in the evening as thunderstorms help disperse smoke particles in the air.
Canada is experiencing the start of the worst wildfire season ever recorded. Federal officials said last week that more than 6.7 million acres have already been burned across the country in 2023.
About 14,000 people have been displaced in Quebec and more than 150 wildfires are still burning in the province, according to CBC News. Further east in Nova Scotia, authorities said Sunday that one wildfire had been extinguished, but that a second one covering nearly 100 square miles was still out of control, The Associated Press reported. .
In recent days, smoke from the fires has drifted across the northeastern United States and settled in the Midwest. Warnings of rising air pollution levels were issued across the country, especially for “sensitive populations” including children, the elderly, and those with asthma and other pre-existing respiratory diseases.
Air pollution from wildfire smoke is a serious health risk in the United States, and it is getting worse. Researchers at Stanford University found that the number of people experiencing at least one day of unhealthy air quality from smoke has increased 27-fold over the past decade.
Small particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (about 4% the diameter of an average human hair) in smoke are of particular concern to air quality researchers.
“These particles are small enough to breathe and can cause cardiovascular problems,” said Brett Palm, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
Exposure to this type of contamination can cause inflammation and weaken the immune system, especially if fine particles pass through the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Particulate pollution can increase the risk of asthma, lung cancer and other chronic lung diseases, especially in vulnerable populations such as the elderly, pregnant women, infants and children.
Exposure to wildfire smoke can increase your risk of respiratory illness. Increases in Covid-19 and influenza have also been associated with wildfire smoke.
Palm said the conditions unfolding in the Midwest are particularly relevant to the long-term impact of wildfires, as climate change causes warmer and drier conditions, making wildfires more likely to occur and more severe when they do occur. said it highlights significant risks.
“In the last decade or so, these fires have increased, affecting not only where they started, but far downwind,” he said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency works with partner agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA to maintain an interactive map of air quality data called AirNow. This allows users to see where fires are occurring and assess local conditions and risks.