Smoke from Canadian wildfires has drifted south and shrouded Canada and parts of the United States in a haze of smog. New York is among the worst-hit cities as air quality alerts have been issued across the affected regions and thousands evacuated their homes in Canada.
New York Mayor Eric Adams urged residents to stay indoors as the thick haze of pollution cast an eerie, yellowish glow over Manhattan's famous skyscrapers, delayed flights and forced the postponement of sporting events. Conditions are expected to deteriorate in the next few hours.
More than 100 million people across America's northeast are under pollution warnings after the smoke drifted hundreds of miles from Canada, extending west to Chicago and south to Atlanta, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said.
In Canada itself, the devastating wildfires have displaced more than 20,000 people and scorched about 3.8 million hectares of land. The nation’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this was the worst wildfire season Canada has ever had.
Smoke from the wildfires has been moving south into the US since May. The wildfires extend from the western provinces to Nova Scotia and Quebec in the east, where there are more than 150 active fires in a particularly fierce start to the summer season.
New York currently has the worst air quality of any big city in the world, according to IQAir. Second worst was Lahore, Pakistan, while the next worst major US city, Detroit, Michigan, came in at 13th. Delhi, India, which consistently ranks among the worst cities for air pollution, was sixth worst.
The Big Apple’s skyline turned orange-brown and visibility shrank before sunset. Schools cancelled all outdoor events and residents were encouraged to wear face masks, which many had shed as the coronavirus pandemic waned.