Wildfires in Canada continue to create poor air quality conditions throughout the United States. As of June 7, 2023, air quality advisories are in effect for nearly 110 million Americans in parts of 18 states from New Hampshire to South Carolina. The air quality is currently considered “unhealthy” for millions of Americans, and as a result, all impacted individuals should limit the time they spend outdoors. However, health experts and local officials warn that at-risk populations in affected areas—such as young children, older adults and individuals with respiratory conditions—should be especially careful before going outside.
Canada is on pace to have its worst year of wildfires as warm and dry conditions persist throughout the country. There are currently more than 400 active fires burning across the country, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center. Over half of those fires are considered “out of control.” So far, wildfires have burned 9.39 million acres and forced more than 100,000 individuals to evacuate. Models are currently predicting increased wildfire risks in most of Canada through August.
Risks of Poor Air Quality
Wildfires can cause poor air quality due to smoke containing carbon monoxide and other dangerous chemicals entering the atmosphere. Of particular concern is small particulate matter—particles in the air that are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter—since they can be inhaled into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Poor air quality from wildfire smoke can cause eye, nose, throat and lung irritation and increased risk of respiratory infection. For young children, older adults, pregnant women and individuals with asthma or other respiratory conditions, it can cause breathing difficulties.
How Individuals Can Protect Themselves
Individuals should look for guidance from federal, state and local authorities. Those affected by the poor air quality due to wildfires should stay indoors as much as possible, with windows and doors closed, and check air quality alerts regularly. If individuals must go outside, they should wear a mask that can filter out particulate matter in the air. People with respiratory-related conditions should monitor their conditions and seek medical attention if they are coughing, having trouble breathing, experiencing chest pain or wheezing.
With a storm system approaching the East Coast this weekend, winds will likely shift to the south, easing the impact of the wildfire smoke in the United States. However, wildfires and weather conditions often change fast, so individuals should continue to monitor the situation.
In the United States, the summer months are wildfire season. Individuals should continue to monitor this situation and other wildfires that may be happening in or around the country.
Article Published By: Zywave, Inc.