Canadian wildfires have caused hazardous smoke to drift across the border, prompting the mayor of New York City to issue warnings for residents to stay home. Large portions of Canada are still battling over 400 separate wildfires, with several more days of pollution expected. On Wednesday, New York City experienced a hazardous Air Quality Index score exceeding 400, casting a thick, nicotine-yellow haze over the iconic skyline. The United States has over 100 million people on air quality alerts, and many individuals are resorting to masks similar to those used during pandemics.
Experts warn that inhaling the smoke is as harmful as smoking 22 cigarettes a day. The minute nanoparticles in the smog can enter the bloodstream, leading to respiratory issues, eye and throat irritation. Some patients in New York City hospitals have reported such symptoms, but the number of admissions has not risen significantly. Public health officials are monitoring the situation but haven’t observed anything out of the ordinary.
New Yorkers with preexisting lung or heart conditions are at higher risk and should take precautions. The smoke caused visibility issues in New York City, leading to the postponement of a baseball game and the cancellation of a soccer game and WNBA match. Actor Jodie Comer experienced breathing problems and had to be replaced by her understudy during a performance. Air travel was also disrupted, with significant delays reported in multiple airports.
Google has instructed its East Coast staff to work from home, and Philadelphia issued health advisories urging residents to stay indoors. The smoke is expected to linger for several days, and bad air quality advisories have been issued for all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. The fires in Quebec, Canada, have contributed to the severity of the situation, with over 400 wildfires burning across the country. Firefighters from various nations have been deployed to assist, but resources are stretched thin.
New York City has not faced an air quality crisis of this magnitude since 1966, which resulted in the loss of many lives and the enactment of the Clean Air Act. The current situation is attributed to the dry and warm weather, and forecasts predict worsening conditions in the coming months. The smoke from the Canadian wildfires has affected millions of people in the United States, and the health risks associated with inhaling the smoke are significant.
Overall, the ongoing impact of the Canadian wildfires on air quality has led to health concerns, travel disruptions, and a call for residents to take precautions and stay indoors whenever possible.