Recognizing and Addressing Wildfire Health Risks
Wildfires from Canada are again affecting the air quality in the United States. When the wildfires hit New York City, the sky went from clear and blue to foggy and orange in seconds. The United States was not initially ready to deal with the situation, but hopefully, this time, we will be more conscious about it and deal with efficiency.
Smoke from wildfires contains many elements that harm our lungs if we directly breathe them in. Wildfire smoke contains a mix of complex gasses, hazardous air pollutants, polluted water vapor, and particles, and to make matters worse, it also contains toxic and cancer-causing substances., which include heavy metals and plastics.
Ensuring Personal Safety
There are numerous ways to protect ourselves when our air declines in quality. The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A) says that if you are an adult or child with health problems that involve your heart and lungs, you should avoid going outside when the air quality index (AQI), which is a daily report for how clean or polluted the air is and what health risks will come along if it applies to oneself. If the number between zero to five hundred goes to one hundred fifty, it is unsafe to go outside without a high-quality mask.
Moreover, if one needs to go outside for any reason, wear a high-quality mask such as N-95 or one that fully covers one’s nose and mouth. Make sure that it’s not just any mask like a surgical one, scarf, or bandana because those types of face wearings will not help one avoid the inhalation of pollutants.
Impacts on the East Coast
The wildfire smoke from Canada affects not only them but the major cities on the East Coast. East Coast cities have seen the impacts of the hazardous smoke from the Canadian wildfires. For example, on Wednesday, June seventh, when New York City truly saw the impacts of the wildfires from the northern border, it completely changed how our skies looked. A dense haze covered everything from the skyline to the iconic Statue of Liberty.
The air quality was so bad in the city that instantaneously we went to having the worst air quality on the planet. New York became second to Delhi, India on Wednesday morning for low air quality as an effect of the wildfires from Canada.
The wildfires from the north have also impacted other cities on the east coast like Milwaukee. Canadians use a different unit of measurement, hectares, and one hectare is two and a half acres in the United States. In proportion, nineteen million acres in Canada have been burned so far in twenty-twenty three, which equals half the state of Wisconsin.
Detroit is another city impacted by the wildfires in Canada. The poor and minority demographic of Detroit took a huge impact from the wildfires, and the thirty percent poverty rate makes matters worse. To add on, the asthma rates are higher because of the probability that they will reside next to a polluting plant.
Unpredictable events such as wildfires are sometimes human-caused or influenced by weather events such as lightning. In most cases, fifty percent of wildfires are unknown to how they started. Wildfires bring much uncertainty, but we have people like firefighters who combat these kinds of fires, and all we can do is take the necessary precautions and listen to those who are knowledgeable in what they are talking about. If we do all of this, we can guarantee our safety in moments like these, which are unpredictable and anything can arise from them.