U.S. Issues Air Quality Warnings, Restrict Flights Over Smoke from Canada Fires

An aerial view shows New York City in a haze-filled sky from the Empire State Building observatory, Wednesday, June. 7, 2023, in New York. Smoke from Canadian wildfires poured into the U.S. East Coast and Midwest on Wednesday, covering cities of both nations in an unhealthy haze, holding up flights …
AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

June 8 (UPI) — U.S. agencies warned the public to avoid inhaling smoke from Canadian wildfires, which also disrupted travel on Thursday.

The Department of Energy and Environment issued an air quality warning and advised people in affected areas to stay indoors.

“Today the air quality is extremely unhealthy. Members of the general public may experience health effects and sensitive groups may experience more serious health issues. Some potential effects are heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, and decreased lung function,” the DOEE tweeted Thursday.

“Everyone should stay indoors as much as possible, especially sensitive groups such as children, elderly, pregnant women and people with heart and lung conditions like asthma and bronchitis,” the department continued.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday announced plans to provide about one million N95 masks to residents.

“Governor Kathy Hochul today announced approximately one million high-quality N95-style masks will be made available to New Yorkers as smoke and haze as a result of ongoing Canadian wildfires continue to impact air quality throughout the state,” the Hochul said in a press release.

The Federal Aviation Administration paused flights from multiple airports in response to the smoke.

“Reduced visibility from wildfire smoke will continue to impact air travel today. We will likely need to take steps to manage the flow of traffic safely into New York City, D.C., Philadelphia and Charlotte,” the FAA tweeted Thursday morning.

Later in the day the FAA announced that departures to Philidelphia were grounded due to low visibility before announcing that flights had resumed.

Canada’s Minister of Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, said the fires have burned about 9.4 million acres of forest. The fires have caused at least 26,000 people in Canada to be evacuated.


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