Polluted air from Canada’s wildfires returned to the United States this week, and provincial officials on Monday urged residents to take preventive measures, including limiting outdoor activity and wearing masks.
With nearly 900 wildfires raging across Canada, the smoke will come out of the western part of the country this week.
“Unfortunately, wildfire smoke will begin to return to the area towards the start of the new week,” according to the Philadelphia Area National Weather Service.
Air quality warnings have been issued for multiple regions, including not only the Northeast, but also the Midwest, Great Lakes, Central Tennessee, and North Carolina.
By 10 a.m. ET Monday, cities in the Midwest were reporting some of the worst air quality in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index. The index is from 0 to 500. The higher the number, the higher the level of air pollution. An AQI of 201 or higher is considered very unhealthy. Billings, Mont. and Fort Wayne, Indiana had an AQI of 161, while the Cleveland area had an AQI of 157.
According to AirNow, the EPA-run website that monitors air quality across the United States, the forecast is expected to create conditions “unhealthy for everyone” in the areas closest to the Canadian border.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said the recommendations are valid until Monday. In the southwestern part of the state, residents were told to limit vehicle use, refrain from mowing the lawn, and not burn firewood or yard waste.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued Monday’s Air Quality Health Advisory on Sunday. Air quality in parts of upstate New York is expected to reach unhealthy levels for all residents, while lower Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island are expected to be unhealthy only for sensitive groups. was Rochester’s AQI was already 141 early Monday morning, while Buffalo’s AQI was 116.
“New Yorkers should be prepared again this week for smoke from wildfires in western Canada impacting air quality in the province,” Hochul said in a statement, after authorities issued emergency calls to roads and public transportation. but added that they were making sure masks were being distributed. It was available for distribution in counties within the state.
Local authorities have also advised residents to limit outdoor activities, use public transport or wear masks. The message was repeated from Buffalo, where Mayor Byron W. Brown called on residents to take precautions, to Chicago, where an air quality warning was in effect through Sunday night.
“We are keenly aware that the recent weather events that have had a noticeable impact on the city this summer are a direct result of the climate crisis,” said Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. said on sundaywarns children, the elderly, and people with heart or lung disease to limit outdoor activities.
In Pennsylvania, where the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a statewide “code orange” alert, officials are asking residents and businesses to limit the burning of leaves, trash, and other materials and to use gas-powered lawn and garden equipment. Suggested to avoid.
“Canada wildfire smoke will linger through Tuesday as northwesterly winds originating from the Canadian prairie continue to push more smoke onto Lower 48,” the weather service said.
Earlier last month, levels of particulate matter in the air from smoke became so unhealthy that many US cities set records. From Minnesota and Indiana to the Mid-Atlantic and South, it was dangerous to breathe in some places.
Cities such as New York, Toronto, and Cincinnati experienced an alarming drop in visibility. In some places smoke from the fires blanketed the sky with an orange haze. The smoke may have originated from wildfires in Quebec.
Here’s a guide to understanding air quality readings.
Lola Fadul contributed to the report.