The smoke from the Canadian wildfires cast a cloud of smoke and ash over the eastern United States today, affecting the air quality for millions of people.
Over 98 million people across 18 states New York and New Hampshire to South Carolina were under air quality alerts for much of Wednesday morning. The air quality in New York City around 11 am ET was the fourth worst in the world behind Delhi, India; Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Toronto, according to IQAir.com.
By 3 pm ET, New York was ranked No. 1 worst air quality in the world.
“We expect this to be a multiple-day event, so we expect that advisory to remain in place for the next few days. Again, it is notoriously difficult to forecast smoke in these types of events,” Emergency Management Commissioner Zachary Iscol said Wednesday.
“Yesterday, New Yorkers saw and smelled something that has never impacted us on this scale before,” Mayor Eric Adams said at a briefing Wednesday. “From the gloom over Yankee Stadium to the smoky haze obscuring our skyline, we could see it, we could smell it and we felt it. And it was alarming and concerning.”
The air quality index hit 218 at 10 pm ET Tuesday, an unhealthy level.
“So we knew we had a problem once we went above 150 and that’s when we convened. But this is not something that is normal,” he said.
Adams urged New Yorkers to take precautions, recommending all vulnerable people to stay indoors, limit outdoor time, close windows and doors, and use air purifiers.
“If you’re older or have heart or breathing problems, you should remain inside or wear a mask,” he said.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also recommended school districts cancel outdoor activities due to the unsafe air quality.
“According to the most recent forecast, much of the state outside of the North Country is expected to be in an air quality index of unhealthy to very unhealthy today,” she said.