According to IQAir, yesterday, New York was the most polluted city in the world based on the U.S. EPA’s AQI. Today, New York remains at number 2, closely following Delhi. Other major U.S. cities, such as Detroit, also make the top ten, having an AQI of 159 at the time of writing.
Like all major cities, we expect these two cities to suffer from air pollution. However, what’s surprising is the severity of the toxic haze currently blanketing much of the northern and north-eastern United States. What’s causing this smoky haze? Wildfires across the northern border in Canada.
According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, over 400 wildfires are currently burning across the country. Out of these 400 wildfires, over half of them are currently considered out of control. Unfortunately, the wildfires are only expected to worsen over the coming summer.
The wildfires are most severely impacting Quebec, which is home to over 150 active fires. The blazes are so severe that tens of thousands of people have already been evacuated, and others are being warned to stay inside and shut in to prevent ash and dust from entering.
Large Canadian cities such as Toronto are also seeing very severe levels of air pollution, meaning millions are being exposed to the toxic air emitted by uncontrolled wildfires. In these cities, the photos show some of the most dangerous air pollution ever witnessed.
If you are in an area affected by the current wildfires, it’s more important than ever to take precautions to protect your lungs and body. Wherever possible, stay indoors with closed windows. If you have an air purifier, use it to filter any ash particles that may still enter your living space.
If you must go outside, make sure to wear a high-filtration respirator such as an N95 or (proven) KN95. Ensure it fits well and perform a self-fit test before leaving your home to make sure you are best protected as possible. Even if you’re not in a sensitive group, air pollution levels this severe can have major health impacts.
Even in cities located far from the blazes, such as New York, the current air conditions are expected to persist until the end of the week, if not longer.