Air Quality Warnings Continue Across Eastern US as Canadian Wildfires Rage

Jun 9, 2023

Health Effects of Wildfire Smoke

Thought Question: Have you ever felt any physical and emotional effects due to poor air quality? What strategies could you use to support your mental and physical health in challenging circumstances?

A huge cloud of smoke from wildfires in Canada has rolled all the way to South Carolina. It has covered parts of the US in a hazardous haze that’s postponed baseball games and canceled Broadway shows. It has even forced some people to put on masks they haven’t worn since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The smoke comes from more than 400 wildfires in Canada. Many of them are destroying the forests of Quebec. The fires have displaced over 20,000 people. Canadian President Justin Trudeau has asked other nations for help. The US sent 600 firefighters and equipment to manage the blazes. However, the fires continue to spread, and winds are carrying the dense smoke southward toward major US cities. 

New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Richmond were among the cities under a “Code Red” air quality alert on Thursday. Negative conditions are expected to persist into the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. New York Governor Kathy Hochul warned residents to stay indoors. 

“You don’t need to go out and take a walk. You don’t need to push the baby in the stroller,” Hochul said in a statement. “This is not a safe time to do that.”

The smoke has particles in it that can be harmful. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that bigger particles can make your eyes, nose, and throat irritated. But the smoke from wildfires also has very tiny particles. These can get into your lungs and blood, and can cause asthma attacks, make it hard to breathe, and make you feel tired. 

According to the infographic, pollution from wildfire smoke can cause all of the following EXCEPT: (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. vomiting
b. asthma
c. irritated eyes
d. headaches
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