Severe Air Pollution in New York: “So Scary You Can’t Go Anywhere, It’s Everywhere” |  outside

Severe Air Pollution in New York: “So Scary You Can’t Go Anywhere, It’s Everywhere” | outside

with videoUnprecedented images of New York where the famous skyline for days could barely be seen through a haze of smoke. Hundreds of wildfires in Canada cause severe air pollution, meaning millions of residents can hardly leave home. The consequences can be felt in Norway. Will this happen often?

Sani Shalvot

Last updated:

First, the good news: Air quality has improved in part of the affected area along the US East Coast. New York was the most air-polluted city in the world for two days, but it will soon drop in that ranking now that air quality is rated “moderate” instead of “hazardous.” US meteorologists expect the Northeast to improve further this weekend, and pollution should be fine through Tuesday.

“Fortunately, because the last few days have been horrible,” says Jacob Bursema of New York on Friday. The Dutchman lives with his wife and two children in the heart of the capital (Manhattan) and lived the past week as surreal. “The city is as discolored as it was. At first it was dark brown and at worst dark orange. It’s like there’s a filter over New York. Now things are going a little better, but we’re still trying to go out as little as possible. How does the city smell? BBQ A pungent scent permeates everything.”

Air pollution in New York from wildfires in Canada. © AFP

An area the size of the Netherlands

The cause of the problems is the huge forest fires that neighboring Canada has been battling for a month. About 4.1 million hectares went to ash, an area the size of the Netherlands. In the hard-hit province of Quebec in the east of the country, the winds are now down. It is expected to rain on Monday evening.

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Wildfires are most common in Canada and usually rage between May and October. Only: the location is eye-catching this time around. Forest fires usually occur in the drier and warmer parts of the country’s west. In addition, fires are usually not early and severe.

“It is difficult to predict whether these types of large fires will break out more often in this part of Canada. What we are seeing is that because of global warming, moisture evaporates faster and the risk of drought and wildfires increases. The contrast between wet and dry areas is increasing,” he explains. Climate expert Peter Siegmund of KNMI.

The situation we are going through now shows that climate change affects not only melting glaciers and polar bears

Francesca Dominici, climate expert at Harvard University

It appears that extreme rainfall and droughts as a result of climate change are now affecting eastern Canada as well. Earlier this year, exceptionally vicious bushfires in the western province of Alberta forced some 30,000 people from their homes.

The current fires can even be smelled across the ocean: in Norway. Norwegian researchers told CNN that plumes of smoke have blown from Canada over Greenland and Iceland into Norway in recent days. Norwegians can smell it and perceive it as a fine haze. “But the smoke has traveled so many kilometers that it is now very light.”

mouth caps

In addition to carbon dioxide, fires also release many substances into the air that are harmful to human health, such as soot particles and hydrocarbons. Many Americans and Canadians wear face masks to protect themselves, but according to Francesca Domenici, a climate expert at Harvard University, that’s not enough to prevent hospitalization. “This level of air pollution in New York is not normal, we have never seen it here before. This is very dangerous for people with respiratory problems. The situation we are going through now shows that climate change does not only affect melting glaciers and polar bears.” “We are faced with the fact that we can no longer breathe clean air,” Dominic said in the British newspaper. Watchman.

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She hopes that the impact of air pollution will lead to additional measures against climate change. The New Yorker Bursima is also hoping for the latter. My 5 year old son asked me what was going on, why he couldn’t play outside. I explained to him that we all had to treat the Earth better, otherwise we would have to deal with this a lot. The thought that they have nowhere to go, and pollution is everywhere, is what I find most frightening. Hence we are lucky that we don’t have to go out much. Most New Yorkers don’t have that luxury, having to go out to work or live in a tiny apartment with no AC.

Last month, wildfires raged in western Canada (Alberta).
Last month, wildfires raged in western Canada (Alberta). ©AP

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