Heavy smoke shrouds the Chrysler Building and One Vanderbilt in a view looking northeast from the Empire State Building as the sun sets in New York City, on June 6, 2023.
Gary Hershorn | Corbis News | Getty Images
New York City’s air pollution ranked among the world’s worst on Wednesday as wildfire smoke from Canada continued to drift over the area, creating a second day of orange haze over the city and prompting some residents to wear face masks outdoors.
The city’s schools are open but are not having outdoor activities as the air quality is expected to deteriorate throughout the day. The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday halted some flights bound for New York’s LaGuardia Airport due to the smoke. Visibility was also causing delays at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Smoke from the Canadian wildfires blankets New York City affecting air quality on June 7th, 2023.
Leslie Josephs | CNBC
City officials have advised residents to limit outdoor activity Wednesday and warned that children, older adults and people with preexisting respiratory problems are especially vulnerable.
The city’s air quality rating briefly ranked the worst of any city in the world Tuesday, according to the IQAir World Air Quality Index, reaching its worst level since the 1960s. As of Wednesday afternoon, the city ranked number three with an AQI of 166, a level considered unhealthy for all residents.
A man sits at the bus stop with a mask on his face in New York City, June 6, 2023.
Selcuk Acar | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Wildfire smoke releases fine particulate matter, called PM2.5, which enters the lungs and causes health issues such as asthma and bronchitis. PM2.5 concentration in New York City is currently 15 times the World Health Organization’s annual air quality guideline value.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for all five boroughs. City officials have said they expect the advisory to remain in place for the next few days but added it’s particularly difficult to forecast smoke conditions.
Mayor Eric Adams in a press briefing Wednesday urged vulnerable residents to remain indoors and said dangerous air quality conditions are forecast to temporarily improve later tonight through Thursday morning but continue to deteriorate Thursday afternoon and evening.
Heavy smoke fills the air as people cross 34th Street in Herald Square, Manhattan, New York, June 6, 2023.
Gary Hershorn | Corbis News | Getty Images
“This may be the first time we’ve experienced something like this of this magnitude,” Adams said. “Climate change is accelerating these conditions. We must continue to draw down emissions and improve air quality and build resiliency.”
Canada is on track to experience its worst-ever wildfire season, with more than 400 active wildfires currently burning across nearly all Canadian provinces and territories. Federal officials said last week that wildfires have burned more than 6.7 million acres and about 26,000 people are under evacuation orders.
The smoke from Canada’s wildfires has drifted south and prompted air pollution warnings across the country.
The sun is shrouded as it rises in a hazy, smoky sky due to the Canadian wildfires, New York City, June 7, 2023.
Lokman Vural Elibol/ | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Millions of people in the Midwest are experiencing dangerous air quality conditions, with air quality advisories in effect in southeastern Minnesota, parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and areas in Wisconsin. Air quality alerts have also been posted across most of New England.
The National Weather Service in a forecast said the smoke was expected to linger through Wednesday and continue to travel further west.
Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of global wildfires and air pollution from wildfire smoke is also growing worse. Last year, Stanford researchers found millions of Americans are routinely exposed to wildfire smoke pollution at levels rarely seen only a decade ago.
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