New Yorkers have been warned to limit their outdoor activities as smoke from wildfires in Canada wafts through much of the northeastern United States.
Air quality in the state is currently “unhealthy,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency, with a murky fog hovering over landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Times Square.
More than 150 wildfires erupted on Tuesday, forcing more than 100,000 people to evacuate, as wildfires broke out unusually early and intensely in Quebec, Canada.
Many of the fires are said to have been caused by lightning strikes.
U.S. officials said residents with heart and lung disease, the elderly and children should limit their outdoor activities, and everyone else should reduce the amount of activity and exercise.
The New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC areas are among the states with “unhealthy” fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) readings.
Canada’s largest city, Toronto, has also warned residents about air quality, and visitors to the CN Tower were met with a dull orange hue instead of clear skies in early summer.
An eerie fog hung over the New York Yankees-Chicago White Sox game on Tuesday night.
Canada’s capital, Ottawa, has issued an even more severe aviation alert, which authorities have rated as category 10 or higher, indicating “very high risk”.
Wildfires are common in western Canada, but more than 110 are said to have gone out of control in eastern Canada this year, with major blazes raging.
Some 3.3 million hectares have already been burned, about 13 times the 10-year average, and more than 120,000 people have been displaced.
The remote Quebec town of Sibougamau, with a population of about 7,500, was the latest to begin evacuations late Tuesday.
What are the risks from contamination?
Particulate matter, known as PM 2.5, is about 1/30th the width of a human hair and can travel great distances.
It can irritate your throat and lungs, making conditions like asthma and heart disease worse. Particles can also hurt your eyes and nose.
Children can be especially sensitive because their lungs are still developing and they breathe in more air per unit of body weight. Older people may struggle more than others.
Where does PM2.5 pollution come from?
It comes primarily from vehicle exhaust, but also includes other activities that burn fuels such as coal and wood, such as forest fires and grass fires.
How can we mitigate risk?
Try to avoid exercising or exercising outdoors. If you must go out, consider wearing an N95 face mask to reduce your exposure.
Keep windows, doors, and fireplaces closed, and run your air conditioner on the recirculation setting. Installing an air purifier in your home can also help especially vulnerable people.
“We are, of course, following all this moment by moment,” said Quebec Premier François Legault.
“Looking at the situation across Quebec, there are still some areas of concern.”
He said the Abitibi-Themiscumming area in northwestern Quebec was of particular concern.
The United States, Mexico, France and South Africa have also deployed firefighters, but it is likely that the fires will be more difficult to extinguish with no rain expected soon.
https://news.sky.com/story/new-york-issues-air-quality-alert-as-smoke-from-canadian-wildfires-shrouds-landmarks-12898084 Canada issues air quality alert as smoke from wildfires blankets landmarks | World News