The air quality in New York was among the worst in the world as cities in the eastern United States were shrouded in smoke from wildfires that raged thousands of miles away on the country’s west coast.
New York state officials have advised vulnerable people, such as those with asthma and heart disease, to avoid strenuous outdoor activities as air pollution skyrockets to eclipse Lima in Peru and Kolkata in India to be ranked as the world’s worst on Tuesday.
Smoke from more than 80 major wildfires in the western United States has caused hazy skies and lower air quality in cities in the eastern United States and Canada, including Philadelphia , Washington DC, Pittsburgh and Toronto, as well as New York, causing fiery sunrises and even moonbaths. in an unusual red tint on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday morning, the air quality index jumped to 157 in Manhattan, well above the 100 threshold where health is considered to be at risk. Vulnerable people include pregnant women and the elderly, although even healthy people outside of these groups may experience difficulty breathing, sore throat, and runny eyes when exposed to air as well. bad.
“I think it’s unusual to have this kind of haze, I don’t remember seeing this kind of thing,” said George Pope, professor of Earth and environmental studies at Montclair State University, who added that he couldn’t see Manhattan from his New Jersey office. “You can pretty much always see the horizon line, at least a silhouette, if it’s a foggy day. It’s, like, it’s unprecedented.
Satellite imagery shows smoke from the fires in the west spread across Canada and spread east, plunging states like Minnesota into unhealthy atmospheric conditions. Winds are able to easily carry tiny particles of soot emitted by burning trees and vegetation, called PM2.5, over great distances. These PM2.5 particles can, when inhaled, burrow into the lungs and cause various health problems.
“We see a lot of fires producing a tremendous amount of smoke,” said David Lawrence, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “By the time the smoke reaches the east of the country where it is usually cleared up, there is so much smoke in the atmosphere from all these fires that it is still quite thick. “
This is the second year in a row that smoke from massive wildfires in the western United States has traveled 2,000 miles east, with the western states baked by the ongoing drought and outbreak. temperatures fueled by man-made climate change.
Smoke is expected to clear New York City in the coming days, but more widespread wildfires are expected in the coming months, with residents of the western United States the most affected by the smoke as well as the the direct threat of flames.
David Turnbull, a US Climate Action Network activist who lives in Portland, Oregon, tweeted that residents of the east coast should beware of the unhealthy air, but also “be careful how you talk about the hazy skies.” Your wonder about it is our awe here in the west. Your curiosity is our constant fear. We live every day for months in fear that the winds will turn, fires will rage, and smoke will come. “