Poor air quality warning in fifteen US states

2023-06-07 18:34:36, Kosova & Bota CNA

Poor air quality warning in fifteen US states

NEW YORK – Fifteen US states warned residents Wednesday of poor air quality as smoke from hundreds of wildfires across eastern Canada drifted south, creating a blackout over New York and other major cities.

Health authorities in 15 states, from Vermont to South Carolina, as well as Ohio and Kansas, warned that particulates rising into the atmosphere could exceed levels considered acceptable and could make breathing difficult for millions of residents.

According to the National Weather Service, the warning was also issued for the population in the capital Washington, where the VOA headquarters are located.

People were instructed to limit the time they spend outside, while those with breathing problems were advised to wear a mask.

Smog crosses the US border from Canada, where the wildfire season got off to an unusually early start and at a high intensity due to continued hot and dry conditions. Canada is expected to have its worst fire season ever.

The sky over New York and many other cities took on a uniform gray color, and the air smelled of burning wood. In some cities, the morning sun looked like a small disc glowing orange.

The skyscrapers of New York, which on a normal day can be seen from miles away, became almost invisible.

City schools resumed classes Wednesday, although outdoor activities, including a graduation ceremony, were canceled, postponed, or moved indoors.

Canadian authorities on Wednesday issued a stronger air quality warning to residents of the country's financial hub, Toronto, because of the ongoing wildfires that have hit a record this year.

Poor air quality warning in fifteen US states
Canada's wildfires seen from satellite (June 6, 2023)

Although Canadian forest fires are common in the western provinces of the country, the worst fire season is the eastern province of Nova Scotia. The Canadian government has deployed the military in the region.

There are hot spots in almost all ten provinces and territories of Canada. The province of Quebec appears to be the most affected. Some of the fires were caused by lightning.

Air quality in the capital Ottawa, which is near the border with Quebec province, continued to be in the "very high risk" category, according to Health Canada's Air Quality Index.

About 3.3 million hectares of forests have already burned - almost 13 times more than the average of the last 10 years - and over 120 thousand people have been forced to leave their homes./ VOA

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