Air quality levels have dropped in parts of the US due to Canadian wildfires

Millions of people in eastern Canada faced unhealthy air quality conditions on Tuesday, as wildfire smoke spread across much of the country in eastern Canada.

An air quality advisory was in effect for several areas of New York state on Tuesday. Air monitoring stations tuesday afternoon in parts of New York City showed measures that are considered unhealthy for anyone.

This marked the second day that a wide area of the country has misty skies. On Monday, smoke engulfed the landscape from the Ohio Valley to the south to the Carolinas. Air quality advisories were in effect in parts of southeastern Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as well as more than 60 counties in Wisconsin on Monday.
The spike in air pollution comes from wildfires that are rampant in Canada’s Quebec and Nova Scotia provinces. `

“A band of smoke from wildfires in Quebec will continue today due to very light winds in east central and southeast Minnesota,” the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency tweeted on Monday. “From the air.

Canada is experiencing the worst start to its wildfire season ever recorded. Federal officials said last week that more than 6.7 million acres have already burned in the country in 2023.

In Quebec, about 14,000 people were forced to evacuate, and more than 150 fires are still burning in the province, according to CBC News. In the east in Nova Scotia, officials said Sunday that one wildfire had been contained, but the other, covering about 100 square miles, was still spiralling out of control, The Associated Press reported.
But fire weather was also developing in America. The National Weather Service’s Hurricane Prediction Center said Tuesday that “dry thunderstorms” — a common firestarter — could provoke explosions in the mid-Atlantic. Aerated conditions can spread those fires and make them difficult to control.

In recent days, smoke from fires has been flowing into the northeastern United States and settling in the Midwest. Warnings of high concentrations of air pollution in areas were issued specifically for “vulnerable groups”, including children, older adults and people with asthma and other pre-existing respiratory conditions.
Air pollution from wildfire smoke in the U.S. It has become a significant health risk and is getting worse. Researchers at Stanford University found that there has been a 27-fold increase in the number of people experiencing unhealthy air quality at least one day due to smoke over the past decade.

Small particles in smoke that are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter — about 4% of the diameter of an average human hair — are of particular concern to air quality researchers.

“These are particles that 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 such pollution can cause inflammation and weaken the immune system, especially when small particles enter the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Particulate pollution can increase the risk of asthma, lung cancer or other chronic lung diseases, especially in vulnerable groups such as older people, pregnant people, infants and children.

Exposure to forest fire smoke can increase the risk of respiratory disease. The rise of COVID-19 and influenza has also been linked to wildfire smoke.

Palm said the situation unfolding in the Midwest highlights the long-term risks of wildfires, particularly the hot and dry conditions caused by climate change that make these eruptions more likely to occur — and more severe when they do.

“Over the past decade, these fires have been increasing and impacts are increasing not only where the fires have occurred, but far from where the fires have occurred,” he said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — along with partner agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA — maintains an interactive map of air quality data called AirNow that allows users to view active fire locations and assess local conditions and risks.

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