Parts of the United States are facing a significant decline in air quality as raging wildfires in Canada release smoke that drifts over the eastern regions, Your Content has learned.
On Tuesday, millions of people in the eastern United States experienced unhealthy air conditions, with New York state being particularly affected.
The smoke haze has spread from the Ohio Valley down to the Carolinas. The deteriorating air quality is attributed to the ongoing wildfires in Quebec and Nova Scotia provinces of Canada.
In response to the smoky conditions, an air quality advisory was issued for several regions of New York state, with some parts of New York City reporting unhealthy air measurements.
The situation persisted for a second consecutive day, impacting a wide area of the country. On Monday, air quality advisories were in effect in southeastern Minnesota, parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and more than 60 counties in Wisconsin.
The wildfires in Canada have caused immense damage, with over 6.7 million acres already burned in 2023, marking one of the worst wildfire seasons recorded in the country. In Quebec, approximately 14,000 individuals were forced to evacuate, more than 150 fires are still active in the province.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia has contained one wildfire, but another, covering nearly 100 square miles, continues to burn out of control.
While the situation unfolds in Canada, the United States is also experiencing fire weather conditions.
The National Weather Service’s storm prediction center warned on Tuesday that “dry thunderstorms,” often a cause of wildfires, could spark blazes in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Gusty winds could exacerbate the spread and control of these fires.
The smoke from the Canadian wildfires has been drifting across the northeastern United States and settling in the Midwest, leading to elevated concentrations of air pollution.
Alerts have been issued, particularly for vulnerable groups such as children, older adults, and individuals with respiratory conditions like asthma.
Stanford University researchers have observed a significant increase in the number of people exposed to unhealthy air quality due to smoke over the past decade.
Smoke particles from wildfires, particularly those smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, pose a significant risk to air quality.
These particles can be inhaled, leading to cardiovascular problems and other health issues. Long-term exposure to wildfire smoke can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of asthma, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases.
Moreover, there are indications that wildfire smoke may contribute to the spread of diseases like Covid-19 and influenza.
The current situation in the Midwest underscores the long-term consequences of wildfires, especially as climate change exacerbates the conditions conducive to their occurrence.
Warmer and drier conditions increase the likelihood and severity of wildfires, resulting in significant impacts not only near the fires but also in areas far downwind.
To keep track of air quality conditions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, maintains an interactive map called AirNow. This platform allows users to access air quality data, track active fires, and assess local conditions and associated risks, according to NBC News.