Washington, Jun 9 (EFE).- The air quality in the northeastern United States improved Friday as the smoke from hundreds of wildfires in Canada drifted farther to the south.
For two days, roughly 75 million people across a region including major cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, were contending with bad air quality as a result of roughly 200 fires in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
By mid-day Friday, the US National Weather Service ranked the air quality in New York and Boston as good, while Washington and Philadelphia were rated “moderate.”
But cities farther south, such as Louisville, Kentucky, and St. Louis, Missouri, were expected to experience bad air quality.
In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration issued a Code Orange Alert, indicating that children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic respiratory conditions should remains indoors as much as possible and consider wearing a mask when venturing out.
Most New York City schools were scheduled to be closed Friday, but those set to hold classes shifted from in-person to remote instruction for the day, while the Big Apple’s zoos and aquarium re-opened.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said that to prepare for future pollution episodes, the state will manufacture 1 million N95 masks.
Toronto, Canada’s most-populous city, canceled its poor air quality alert Friday as a change in the winds moved the smoke away from the metropolis of 6 million people.
Traces of the smoke have been detected as far away as Norway.
Since Jan. 1, wildfires in Canada have consumed roughly 4.3 million hectares (16,600 sq mi) of forest, a figure 16 times the yearly average over the last decade.
Scientists and officials have identified climate change as a factor in the dramatic increase in the number of fires and the level of destructiveness.
Authorities in Quebec, which has around 150 active blazes, said they were confident of improvement thanks to a change in the weather and the impending arrival of additional firefighters from abroad.
One hundred French firefighters reached Quebec on Friday and 100 of the 600 US firefighters dispatched to Canada will be deployed in the province.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden extended an offer of help to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. EFE pem-jcr/dr