Over the past couple days, New York has been engulfed by an orange haze as wildfires in Canada blaze just a few hundred miles away.
Major metropolitan areas as well as rural communities across the East coast are grappling with hazardous air quality this week, spanning areas such as Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and even down to Charleston, S.C.
In New York City, the air quality has reached dangerous levels. Late Tuesday night, the city recorded the worst air quality in any area of the world, according to IQAir. It remained there throughout Wednesday morning, and by Thursday morning, was second only to New Delhi, India.
“Yesterday, New Yorkers saw and smelled something that has never impacted us on this scale before,” mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference Wednesday, via NBC. “From the gloom over Yankee Stadium to the smoky haze obscuring our skyline, we could see it, we could smell it and we felt it. And it was alarming and concerning.”
Adams said that the situation, which is impacting over 8 million people living in the city, is "unprecedented." He noted the air quality index reached 218 on Tuesday, “a very unhealthy level” which “sent shock waves throughout the county and region.”
While it is not uncommon for city air to reach 100 during the summer, an index of over 150 raises alarms. From 150 to 200, sensitive groups could face health impacts. By Wednesday, the air quality index in Brooklyn was 418, according to governor Kathy Hochul, said at a news conference that the situation amounts to “a health and environmental crisis”
In Canada, over 400 wildfires are currently burning, with more than 100 in Quebec alone, which have evacuations in several towns and villages. The province has experienced an record heat this year, contributing to drought and dry conditions.
Experts recommend that those in effected areas stay inside unless absolutely necessary, and that they were a mask — preferably of N95 caliber — if they must leave their homes.