American cities catch their breath after the toxic smoke clears
Air quality improved in the northeastern United States, Friday, after the smoke from forest fires in Canada gradually cleared.
In New York and Washington, the US Environmental Protection Agency classified the air quality as “moderate.” In the US capital, the sky returned to blue, but as a precaution, the city’s public school children remained in classrooms. In New York, public schools were closed and distance learning was organized.
The NASA scientist, who specializes in air pollution, Ryan Stauffer, said that the air quality improved after the winds changed direction over the Canadian province of Quebec. Where fires burn.
He added that the concentration of fine particles in the air decreased by up to twenty times in Washington, compared to the same time last (Thursday).
A thick haze shrouded the sky and a pungent stench hung over the region for several days as air pollution exceeded that of some of the world’s most polluted cities in South Asia and China.
Flights were delayed at many airports due to poor visibility, and people returned to wearing face masks in the streets.
About 140 fires are still burning in Quebec, including nearly 80 that are still out of control, after more than 13,000 people have been evacuated since the beginning of June.
Hundreds of foreign firefighters have arrived in Canada to help put out huge fires, many of which have broken out in remote northern forest areas.
With nearly 900,000 hectares affected, according to official figures, Quebec is experiencing an unprecedented fire season.
For its part, the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said, “Air quality conditions in the city have improved, but are still unhealthy for some people. Air quality is expected to improve over the weekend, but things can change.”
In the same vein, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, environmental organizations, as well as US politicians stressed this week the need to combat climate change, which increases the risk of fires.
The mayors of New York, Montreal, Toronto, Washington, and Philadelphia issued a joint statement on Friday, saying that “this troubling period serves as a stark reminder of the damaging effects of the climate crisis on cities around the world.”
They added that “without significantly reducing fossil fuel use in order to at least halve our emissions by 2030, we could potentially be doomed to live like this weeks into the future.”
More than 111 million people in the United States received air quality warnings Thursday due to the fires. In addition, wildfire smoke from Canada was detected thousands of miles away in Norway.