Canadian Wildfires Could Be Killing US Citizens
CHICAGO – (AP) Concerns about the Great Lakes region’s air quality and areas of the central and eastern United States’ air quality are being caused by the smoke that is drifting from the current wildfires in Canada, which is creating a thick hazy.
The worst air in the country on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow.gov website, was in Illinois, lower Michigan, and southern Wisconsin, with Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee’s air quality being deemed as “very unhealthy.”
As smoke clouds shroud the skylines of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota had its record-breaking 23rd air quality alert from Tuesday until late Wednesday night. A state-wide air quality alert was issued by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. The Department of Natural Resources of Wisconsin also issued a state-wide air quality advisory.
Officials in Chicago recommended citizens spend more time indoors, especially children, the elderly, and anyone with health issues.
Shelly Woinowski, a visitor to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, stated, “Just driving into the zoo… you could just see around the buildings, kind of just haze.”
According to a press statement from Mayor Brandon Johnson, “as long as these unsafe conditions persist, the city will continue to provide updates and take prompt action to ensure that vulnerable people have the resources they need to protect themselves and their families.”
Because the Federal Aviation Administration needs 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of visibility, yet the visibility was only limited to three-quarters to 1.5 miles (1.2-2.4 kilometers) due to the hazy skies in the Milwaukee region, Flight for Life Wisconsin was unable to react to a motorcycle-van collision. Leif Erickson the Executive Director said.
According to Bryan Jackson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, smoke is spreading over northern Michigan, southern Wisconsin, and Chicago due to fires in northern Quebec and low pressure over the eastern Great Lakes.
Jackson noted that the smoke will move into Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky later on Tuesday and overnight due to a north wind that would carry it farther south.
According to a report released on Monday by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, since January 1 there have been forest fires burning across 76,129 square kilometers (29,393 square miles) of territory in Canada. The National Forestry Database reports that this beats the previous record of 75,596 square kilometers (29,187 square miles), which was achieved in 1989.
Currently, there are 490 fires blazing around the country, with 255 of them being deemed out of control.
Even the recent rain in Quebec won’t likely be enough to put out the wildfires burning that province’s northern region, but the moist conditions may offer firefighters an opportunity to pull ahead of the flames, officials said Tuesday.
Quebec is home to about a quarter of all active fires in Canada. By Wednesday morning, the rain should end in the areas most hit by forest fires, according to Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Legault.
Massive fires raging through sections of Canadian woodlands covered the northeastern United States and the Great Lakes region earlier this month, causing the air to become yellowish-gray and prompting warnings for people to remain indoors.
Small particles in wildfire smoke can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat as well as the heart and lungs, which makes breathing more difficult. According to health professionals, it’s crucial to minimize outside activities as much as possible in order to prevent breathing in harmful particles.
There is a risk, according to Jackson, until the fires are put out. There is a possibility that the wind will be smokey.
President of the United States Joe Biden noted that hundreds of American firefighters and support staff had been working in Canada since May, and used the fires as a reminder of the effects of climate change.
Joel Thornton, professor and chair of the department of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, predicts that as the world warms, hotter and longer heat waves will be produced, leading to larger, smokier fires.
The air quality in Chicago on Tuesday is, in the words of Priti Marwah, “bad.” As she runs around the city lakefront.
It smells awful, she remarked. This is going to be life-threatening today because I run 100 miles a week. I can feel it in my lungs even after parking there for a few minutes.
Wildfire smoke entered Minnesota late on Monday, and it is anticipated that ground-level smoke will persist in southern, east-central, and northeastern Minnesota. Including the Twin Cities region, the state’s northeastern corner up till the southwest and southeast regions.
The 23rd air quality alert in Minnesota this year, exceeding the previous record of 21 in 2021, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency tweeted on Tuesday. A season often sees two or three warnings in Minnesota.
Two weeks ago, smoke from Canadian wildfires caused St. Paul to have the worst air quality in the whole country. Eastern Minnesota, from the Canadian border to the Iowa border, has “unhealthy” air quality as of noon Tuesday.
According to the MPCA, on Wednesday a cold front will pass across Minnesota, bringing cleaner air from the west by early Thursday.