Millions of people in North America have been told to wear N95 masks when they go outside because of the bad air quality caused by wildfires in Canada.
IQAir.com, which tracks air quality around the world, said that New York, which is usually known for its clear blue skies, had the worst air quality index (AQI) of any big city in the world.
On Thursday, New York will start giving away free masks. Canada has told people that if they can’t stay inside, they should wear a mask.
Officials say that the dangerously smoky air is likely to last through the weekend. There are 150 fires burning in Quebec, which is where most of the smoke is coming from.
According to statements made by officials on Wednesday, more than 15,000 individuals in the province are anticipated to be required to leave their homes. Already, this is Quebec’s most destructive fire season on record.
On Wednesday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul made the announcement that the state will begin distributing one million face masks to citizens of the state on Thursday.
“This is a short-term problem. At a news gathering, she said, “This is not Covid.” The governor also said that buses and trains in New York City have good air filtering systems that make them safe ways to get around.
The US (EPA) said that the air quality in much of the Northeast was “unhealthy,” especially for people with breathing disorders.
In New York, orange smoke covered the skyline and made it hard to see sites like the Statue of Liberty.
“We recommend that as many New Yorkers as possible stay inside as much as possible,” Mayor Eric Adams said on Wednesday.
Animals in zoos have been moved inside, and in New York, carriage horse rides have stopped.
Wednesday, schools in Washington, DC area canceled outdoor events because the air quality was “code red.”
Meanwhile, IQAir’s rankings of air pollution put Detroit as the fifth most polluted big city in the world. Officials in charge of public health have warned people not to work out outside and to stay away from the smoke as much as possible.
On Twitter, US Vice President Joe Biden said that more than 600 US firemen and other workers, along with tools, had been sent to Canada to help fight the wildfires.