The smoke from Canada’s wildfires in Ontario and Québec is causing many major cities in the United States to issue air quality alerts for people. As the worst fire season ever recorded in Canada rages on, more than 80 million Americans living in the Midwest and parts of the East Coast have been advised to stay indoors due to “very unhealthy” air quality.
According to AirNow.gov, air quality alerts were issued in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., New York and parts of North Carolina.
“There’s particularly poor air quality… over southern Wisconsin, Illinois, central Indiana, and also another area over southeast Michigan, Detroit and northeast Ohio around Cleveland,” Byran Jackson, National Weather Service meteorologist, said. “This is particularly thick smoke.”
Jackson said that “another round is going through western New York, western Pennsylvania” and “then that continues over the northern Mid-Atlantic.”
Americans living in the areas where an air quality alert was issued have been advised to stay indoors and “limit heavy or prolonged exertion,” EcoWatch reported. The elderly, children and people with respiratory illnesses are said to be at the greatest risk from the smoke.
“Don’t generate extra particles indoors if you can,” Dr. Peter Moschovis, a pulmonologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, said. “So, smoking, vaping, burning incense, aerosolized essential oils—all those things aren’t good for your lungs at baseline.”
So far, the wildfires in Canada have burned 16 million acres and, with hot, dry and windy conditions fanning the flames, fires will continue and occur more frequently if the climate crisis continues to worsen, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported.
“We know that human-induced climate change is warming Canada at about twice the global average rate,” Nathan Gillett, a research scientist at the Canadian government’s environment department, said.