Air quality alerts raised in New York as smoke blankets from Canadian wildfires cover the Northeast

The sun rises in a hazy sky behind the Empire State Building in New York City.

The sun rises in a hazy sky behind the Empire State Building in New York, seen from Jersey City, NJ, on Tuesday. (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Smoke from wildfires in Canada blanketed a wide swath of the Midwest and Northeast United States on Monday and Tuesday, casting up a thick haze that created Instagram-worthy sunrises and sunsets.

It also triggered air quality alerts in at least eight states, with health officials warning people in sensitive groups, such as children, people with heart or lung conditions, or people with over 65, to limit their time outdoors.

According to AccuWeather, air quality alerts have been issued for Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.

How dangerous is it?

A smoky sky covers the New York skyline.

Smoke covers the New York skyline on Tuesday. (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

“Smoke is made up of gases and particles, the same pollutants that are responsible for poor air quality,” said Boris Quennehen, an air quality scientist at Plume Labs who spoke to AccuWeather.

In New York, the Air Quality Index (AQI) – which measures the amount of pollutants in the air on a scale of 0 to 500 – is currently the second worst in the United States, at 166, a level considered “unhealthy”. ”

“There are enough smoke particles in the air that this could be an air quality concern, not just for sensitive groups but for just about everyone who lives in the North East” , Britta Merwin, meteorologist for Fox Weather, told viewers.

Air quality in Indianapolis and Dayton, Ohio was only marginally better, with an AQI of 161, but still considered unhealthy.

Where are the fires exactly?

Thick plumes of smoke fill the sky as an out of control fire in a suburban community quickly spreads, engulfing several homes and forcing the evacuation of local residents in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Thick plumes of smoke fill the sky as an out of control fire in a suburban community quickly spreads, engulfing several homes and forcing the evacuation of local residents in Halifax, Nova Scotia on May 28. (Kelly Clark/The Canadian Press via PA)

There are currently 414 active wildfires in Canada, according to the Canadian Interagency Wildfire Center, of which more than half (241) are considered “out of control”.

The fires have so far charred more than 9 million acres and forced more than 100,000 people to evacuate.

Learn more about Yahoo News: Canada on track for its worst wildfire season (Reuters)

Last week, smoke from at least 14 Nova Scotia wildfires spread across the northeast, with residents from Vermont to Connecticut reporting they could not only see it, but smell it.

Is there a threat of wildfires in the United States?

The New York skyline amid a hazy sky.

In New York, the air quality index of 166 is currently the second worst in the United States (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Yes. According to the National Weather Service, five states – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Washington and Alaska – were under “red flag” warnings on Tuesday due to hot, dry and unstable conditions.

Such warnings are issued when weather conditions in an area are conducive to the spread of wildfires due to a combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and dry fuels.

The Weather Service has warned residents of those states to avoid any activity that could cause a wildfire, such as outdoor grilling, smoking and cutting down trees.

“Camping, outdoor barbecues, smokers, chainsaws and all-terrain vehicles all have the potential to ignite a spark and ignite a dangerous and destructive fire,” the weather service said, adding that “everything any fire that develops will likely spread rapidly.” ”

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