Millions of East Coasters Awoke to Skylines in a Thick Haze of Soot by Dr. Steeve Coupeau

2 min readJun 9, 2023

On June 8, 2023, more than 100 million East Coasters were under air quality alerts as toxic smoke from record-setting Canadian wildfires poured into the eastern US, threatening flights and leading to school systems closures. New York State Health officials recommended New Yorkers mask up or stay inside. New York’s air quality was worse than it was in Delhi, India, the infamous pollution capital where average life spans are reduced more than nine years by air particulates.

There is a high concentration of particulate matter in wildfire smoke. According to Inside Climate News (dated 6/9/2023), “particulate matter, or PM2.5, are microscopic particles of soot that can embed deep within your lung tissue and even make it into your bloodstream, where it has the potential to cause serious, long-term health problems like cardiovascular disease”.

A firefighter battles a wildfire (file). Photo Credit: UN News/Unsplash/Fabian Jones

Older adults, kids and people with underlying conditions are especially at risk of negative health effects from exposure to fine particulate matter. According to NYC Mayor, Eric Adams, the city’s air quality was the worst since at least the 1960s on the afternoon of June 8, 2023. The Mayor urged New Yorkers to limit their time outdoors.

Extreme temperatures caused by climate change made these wildfires worse. As climate change worsens so will our air quality. Recent heat waves and drought conditions across Canada have dried out grasslands and forests, turning them into fuel for wildfire.

Our response must meet the urgency of the situation. The more accurate the climate reporting we produce and share means the more we can protect ourselves, our families, and our communities.

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