Orange smog envelops Ottawa as Canada wildfires continue to fill skies

New York City woke up on Wednesday to another day of darkened, smoke-filled skies as it remained, for now, one of the worst places for air pollution in the world.

The Big Apple is currently only second to New Delhi in levels of air pollution.

New Yorkers were advised to limit their time outdoors and wear masks to protect themselves from the smoke.

The entire US Northeast is battling smoke that is moving south from more than 400 wildfires raging in Canada which have led to mass evacuations in the province of Quebec. Canadian officials warned that this could be the country’s worst wildfire season on record, with over 6.7 million acres already scorched.

The Air Quality Index is currently at “unhealthy” levels across New York and other major cities as public officials encourage residents to limit outdoor activities ”to the absolute necessities”.

At least 10 school districts in central New York cancelled outdoor activities, including recess and gym classes.

Climate scientists agree: although fires are part of the ecosystem in some regions, the climate crisis is making them more frequent and intense.

Dozens of studies have linked larger wildfires to global heating that is caused by emissions from burning of fossil fuels.


Residents in masks, darkened, hazy skies and a blood moon were among the scenes from the US Northeast to emerge late on Tuesday and into Wednesday due to plummeting air quality from Canada’s wildfires.

Read Stuti Mishra’s report on the unprecedented scenes below.

Louise Boyle7 June 2023 16:20


Bladerunner-esque skies in New York state

The National Weather Service in Binghamton, New York, around 200 miles from the Canadian border, shared this vision of Blade Runner-esque skies on Wednesday morning.

“Sun is no longer visible, everything’s orange, the parking lot lights have come on, and we’re stuck at 50°F,” forecasters tweeted.

Louise Boyle7 June 2023 16:05


NYC and DC public schools cancel outdoor activities as wildfire smoke plagues East Coast

New York City and Washington DC have canceled outdoor activities in public schools as wildfire smoke drifting from Canada clouds the skies and creates unhealthy air conditions across the northeastern US.

Officials anticipate air quality to improve on 7 June but will likely deteriorate later in the day, according to forecasters, after eye-watering smoke and polluted conditions triggered alerts across the region. Thirteen states have issued air quality alerts.

Thick smoke was expected to drift across New York City and Philadelphia through Wednesday afternoon. Smoke is expected to reach as far south as South Carolina.

My colleague Alex Woodward has more below.

Louise Boyle7 June 2023 15:45


The New York City Mayor’s Office speaks about the air quality – watch live

Louise Boyle7 June 2023 15:32


Wildfires are causing heavy air pollution. So what’s causing the wildfires?

Climate scientists agree: although fires are part of the ecosystem in some regions, the climate crisis is making them more frequent and intense.

Dozens of studies have linked larger wildfires to global heating that is caused by emissions from burning of fossil fuels. The last decade has been the hottest on record globally.

Snow melt earlier in the year combined with droughts and higher temperatures lead to drier soil and vegetation which is primed to burn.

In the US, the last National Climate Assessment, produced by the federal government, linked “human-caused climate change” with the rise in wildfires.

Wildfires and climate change form a vicious circle: the carbon pumped into the atmosphere by fires increases global heating, further drying out the land and vegetation, making it more susceptible to catching fire.

Louise Boyle7 June 2023 15:24


What is the Air Quality Index?

The phrase “Air Quality Index” is cropping up across social media and in announcements from public officials – so what is it? The Air Quality Index (AQI) is what the US Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies use to report on air quality.

The index runs from 0-500 and the higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the impacts on health.

AQI below 50 is good air quality – over 300 is dangerous. For context, the AQI in my part of the New York City area right now is 153 – which is an “unhealthy” level, particularly for young children and those with underlying health conditions like asthma and heart disease.

The colour-coded Air Quality Index


Louise Boyle7 June 2023 15:11


New York City wakes up to another smoke-filled day

The Manhattan skyline wreathed in smoke from wildfires in Canada on June 7, 2023


Louise Boyle7 June 2023 14:24


ICYMI: New York becomes ‘world’s most polluted’ metro city amid smoke from Canadian wildfires

The air quality for New York stood at 174 on Wednesday, a level that is considered unhealthy for everyone as mayor Eric Adams urged residents to mask-up.

Here’s everything you need to know about the plummeting air quality and the advisories in place:

Stuti Mishra7 June 2023 13:15


Do air purifiers work?

In the face of deteriorating outdoor air quality in New York and large parts of the Northeastern United States and Canada, many individuals seek refuge indoors, assuming that the air inside their homes or workplaces is safe and clean.

However, indoor air pollution can be a significant concern as well with pollutants from outside entering our houses. This is where air purifiers come into play, promising to remove harmful pollutants and improve indoor air quality.

But how effective an air purifier is in achieving cleaner and healthier indoor environments depends on several factors.

Air purifiers are designed to target specific pollutants, such as dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Different air purifier models employ various filtration technologies, such as High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, activated carbon filters, or electrostatic precipitators.

With raging wildfires, the fine particulate matter which is known as PM2.5 is increased, that is known impact respiratory system and cause cardiovascular diseases.

A good quality HEPA filter an cut smoke pollution indoors by about 50 to 80 per cent, some estimates suggest.

Air purifiers with HEPA filters can also be beneficial for individuals suffering from allergies. They can effectively trap and remove common allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mould spores, and pet dander, providing relief for allergy sufferers and improving overall comfort.

While activated carbon filters play a crucial role in eliminating unpleasant odours and reducing exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful chemicals.

To maximize the effectiveness of air purifiers, it is also important to consider the size of the purifier in relation to the room, as well as the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) and air changes per hour (ACH) specifications.

Regular maintenance, such as filter replacements and proper cleaning, is essential to ensure optimal performance.

Stuti Mishra7 June 2023 12:46


Washington DC braces for ‘code red’ air pollution today

The Washington DC area found itself under a code orange air quality alert yesterday, indicating high levels of pollution in the air that could pose health risks to vulnerable individuals.

Conditions today are expected to worsen for DC residents, potentially reaching code red levels.

Clean Air Partners — which provides air quality forecasts for the Washington-Baltimore region — has predicted code red conditions for Baltimore today while worsening conditions are expected to reach Washington tomorrow. Some areas will still be under code orange.

Code orange refers to the 101-150 range of the Air Quality Index, which ranges from 0-500. This range is considered unhealthy for vulnerable individuals and comes above moderate levels of air pollution.

Chart depicts AQI levels from 0-500


Code red, however, is the unhealthy range for all individuals where anyone stepping outside in the polluted air feel discomfort.

According to the EPA’s AirNow webpage, during code red conditions, some members of the general public may experience health effects, while individuals from sensitive groups may encounter more serious health consequences.

Stuti Mishra7 June 2023 12:00

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