Air quality in New York City was one of the worst in the world while cities in the eastern US were shrouded in smoke from wildfires raging thousands of miles away on the country’s west coast.
State officials in New York advised vulnerable people, such as those with asthma and heart disease, to avoid strenuous outdoor activities as air pollution increased to eclipse Lima in Peru and Kolkata in India to be ranked as the worst in the world on Tuesday.
Smoke from more than 80 major wildfires burning in the western U.S. has caused hazy skies and deteriorating air quality in cities across Eastern America and Canada, including Philadelphia, Washington DC, Pittsburgh and Toronto, as well as New York. creating fiery sunrises and even moon baths in an unusual red hue on Tuesday evenings.
Wednesday morning, Manhattan’s air quality index rose to 157, well above the 100 threshold where health is considered threatened. Vulnerable people include pregnant women and the elderly, although even healthy people outside of these groups can experience breathing difficulties, throat irritation and runny eyes when exposed to this bad air.
“I think it’s unusual to have this kind of haze. I don’t remember seeing anything like it,” said George Pope, a professor of Earth and environmental studies at Montclair State University, who added that he couldn’t see Manhattan. from his New York. Jersey office. “You can almost always see the skyline, at least a silhouette, if it’s a hazy day. This is, like, this is unprecedented.”
Satellite images show smoke from the western fires has blown into Canada and spread eastward, plunging states like Minnesota into unhealthy air conditions. Winds can easily carry tiny soot particles emitted from burning trees and vegetation, known as PM2.5, over great distances. These PM2.5 particles can burrow into the lungs when inhaled and cause all kinds of health problems.
“We see a lot of fires that produce a huge amount of smoke,” said David Lawrence, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “By the time the smoke reaches the eastern part of the country, where it’s mostly thinned out, there’s just so much smoke in the atmosphere from all these fires that it’s still quite thick.”
This is the second year in a row that smoke from massive wildfires in the western US has traveled 2,000 miles east, with western states affected by ongoing drought and rising temperatures fueled by human-induced climate change.
The smoke will clear from New York in the coming days, but more widespread wildfires are expected in the coming months, with people in the western US being worst affected by the smoke and the immediate threat of the flames.
David Turnbull, an activist with the US Climate Action Network who lives in Portland, Oregon, tweeted that people on the east coast have to watch out for the unhealthy air, but also “take care of how you talk about the hazy skies. Your wonder about it is our fear here in the west. Your curiosity is our constant fear. For months we live every day, afraid that the wind will turn, the fires will rage and the smoke will come.”