Air quality worsens again as smoke from wildfires in Canada drifts back to the US

Smoke from wildfires in Western Canada wafted across the Midwest and Northeast United States on Monday, dimming blue skies and sun and blanketing dozens of cities in unhealthy air that set off alarms to limit weather spent outdoors.

It was the second time in less than a month that the boundless impact of climate change could be felt on a breath. In June, heavy smoke from Quebec wafted up the East Coast and blew from New York City past Washington to Minnesota.

This week, how nearly 900 fires burned across Canadathe smoke came from fires in the western part of the country, billowing into its southern neighbor across a wide path.

By 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, nearly 70 million people in 32 states and the District of Columbia were affected by drifting and migrating smoke, according to estimates based on information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and LandScan, a database of the population.

“Unfortunately, smoke from the wildfires will begin to drift back into the region to start the new week,” according to the Philadelphia-area National Weather Service.

Air quality advisories, ranging from moderate to very unhealthy, have been issued by government agencies from Montana to the Dakotas and parts of other states, including Nebraska, Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina and along the Northeast .

Residents have been advised to take precautions, from limiting outdoor activities to wearing masks. In Chicago, where air quality deteriorated over the weekend, Mayor Brandon Johnson warned children, older residents and people with heart or lung disease limit outdoor activity.

“We are keenly aware that the recent weather events that have had a major impact on our city this summer are a direct result of the climate crisis,” he said.

Air quality advisories were also in place in all parts of Massachusetts.

Kathy Hochul Government of New York it issued air quality health advisories on Sunday For Monday. Air quality in parts of New York state was projected to reach unhealthy levels for all residents, while conditions in the Lower Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island were projected to be unhealthy for only sensitive groups. Air quality across the region was deteriorating by 6:30 p.m. Monday, with parts of the city and state registering more than 100 on the Air Quality Index.

“New Yorkers should once again prepare for smoke from wildfires in Western Canada impacting our state’s air quality this week,” Ms. Hochul said in a statement, adding that officials are activating emergency notifications on roads and on public transportation systems and making sure masks were available for distribution in counties across the state.

The air quality index in Rochester started at 141 early Monday, while Buffalo’s was at 116, but those readings were improving in both cities by late afternoon. New York City officials said conditions, considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, could persist into the early part of the week.

The index ranges from 0 to 500; the higher the number, the higher the level of air pollution. An AQI of 101 or more is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, and 201 or more is considered very unhealthy for anyone.

So far, the air quality advisories haven’t been as bad as they were in early June, when there were readings above 400 on the East Coast, signaling a dangerous level.

But by 10 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, Midwestern and Eastern cities were reporting some of the worst air quality in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Billings, Mont., and Fort Wayne, Ind., had AQIs of 161, while the Cleveland area had 157. Conditions continued to improve through the afternoon.

The forecast is expected to cause “unhealthy for all” conditions in areas closest to the Canadian border, according to AirNowa website maintained by the EPA, which oversees air quality in the United States.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said its advisory is in effect through Monday. In the southwestern region of the state, the residents were told limit the use of your own vehicles, refrain from mowing lawns and avoid burning firewood and garden waste.

Local officials have also advised residents to limit outdoor activities or the use of their cars and to wear masks. The message was repeated from Buffalo, where Mayor Byron W. Brown is staying told the residents to take precautions: in Chicago, where an air quality alert was in effect Sunday night.

In Pennsylvania, where the Department of Environmental Protection has issued a statewide “Code Orange” alert, officials have suggested residents and businesses help by limiting the burning of leaves, trash and other materials and avoiding the use of gas powered lawn and garden equipment.

Smoke from the wildfires emanating from Canada is expected to persist through Tuesday, driven by northwesterly winds, the weather service said.

Early last month, the level of particulate matter in the air from smoking became so unhealthy that many US cities set records. It was sometimes dangerous to breathe everywhere from Minnesota and Indiana to the Mid-Atlantic and Southern sections.

Visibility has declined to initial levels in cities including New York, Toronto and Cincinnati. In some places, the smoke from the fires covered the sky with an orange haze. That smoke could be traced back to the fires burning in Quebec.