Cigarette Equivalences of Wildfire Smoke

Cigarette Equivalences of Wildfire Smoke

With hundreds of wildfires impacting Canada and the northern U.S. over the past few weeks, both countries have recorded some of the worst air pollution levels ever. A couple of weeks ago, according to IQAir, New York was the most polluted city in the world. Just last night, Montreal took its place.

While it’s obvious that air pollution is hazardous to health and that measures should be taken to avoid it, it’s hard to visualise or explain exactly how much it impacts us. However, some recent infographics make the impacts of recent pollution far easier to understand.

Based on research from Berkeley Earth, we can quantify the level of air pollution as an equivalent in cigarettes. Since we are all well aware of the dangers of smoking, discussing air pollution in this form is more relatable for many - even non-smokers.

Websites such as Sh**t I Smoke provide an easy way to quickly visualise your local air quality in a cigarette equivalent. There is also an accompanying app for anyone who would prefer to check the air quality on their smartphone.

Angie Cibis, a graphic designer, recently used this information to create an infographic showing the cigarette equivalents of the recent wildfire smog. On June 7th, New York saw pollution levels equaling smoking 37 cigarettes - that’s almost two packs!

The maroon level on the U.S. EPA’s AQI only equals around 11 cigarettes or half a pack, showing how severe the wildfire smoke is. Going outside in New York City at peak levels would equate to smoking one and a half cigarettes per hour.

With the impacts of wildfires looking to continue for the duration of the summer season, it’s more important than ever to ensure you are prepared with high-filtration, breathable masks. 

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