West News Wire: As smoke from still-burning wildfires in Canada fell over the US Midwest, several American cities were once more placed under air quality alerts. 

On Wednesday, warnings were issued for substantial portions of the area, including the US east coast. Three weeks after haze from the Canadian fires had initially covered cities all over the US and turned the skies orange in certain areas, those warnings were issued as far south as Georgia and Alabama. 

Detroit, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Chicago, Illinois, which were all among the top four cities with the poorest air quality in the globe, were the worst affected cities on Wednesday, according to IQ AIR, a Swiss air quality technology business and monitor. Toronto, Canada, was ranked sixth on the list. 

For its part, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated a stretch covering Madison, Wisconsin; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, as having “very unhealthy” air – its second most severe rating. 

Meanwhile, moderately poor air quality stretched all the way to Florida’s northern edge, according to the EPA’s real time tracker. A patch near Detroit was labeled “hazardous” on Wednesday. While dangerous weather persisted, Chicago’s mayor Brandon Johnson urged children, seniors, and those with health difficulties to spend more time indoors. 

He promised to “take swift action to make sure that those who are vulnerable have the resources they need to protect themselves and their families.” 

While the western parts of the state now have the worst air quality, officials in New York City warned that things might grow far worse. 

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According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, “poor air quality can affect people differently, so individuals must assess their own sensitivities and adjust to the conditions at the time.” 

Although the largest US city’s air quality remained moderate on Wednesday, “wind patterns can quickly change without notice”, the department said. 

Canada is wrestling with its worst-ever start to the wildfire season, which has already burned 6.5 million hectares (16 million acres) ahead of the hottest months of the year. 

Across Canada on Wednesday, 490 fires were burning, and 255 of them were considered to be out of control. 

The small particles in wildfire smoke can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and can affect the heart and lungs, making it harder to breathe. 


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