Canada wildfires prompt Red air quality alert for Washington
The red alert is the fourth of six levels in the system.
The Maryland government has been forced to issue a red quality alert for much of the state, including all of its Washington suburbs, on Wednesday owing to severe pollution generated by wildfires in Canada.
Plumes of smoke are heading across the Northeastern US from southeastern Canada's Nova Scotia Province as a result of scorching wildfires, and air quality alerts are on in several cities.
In an official notice, the Maryland Department of Environment explained that “While some reprieve in concentrations is expected during the day Wednesday, additional concentrated smoke plumes due to the diurnally surging nature of the fires in Quebec will push towards Maryland Wednesday evening. This may further add to the daily average load, resulting in some areas of the state attaining Unhealthy, Code Red AQI due to fine particles."
The red alert is the fourth of six levels in the system and will stay in place until Thursday due to the Quebec wildfires continuously causing large amounts of smoke to spread toward the Mid-Atlantic area.
The notice detailed how a "concentrated plume of smoke is working south through Pennsylvania and New York towards the eastern half of Maryland."
Maryland officials estimate the situation to improve slightly by Friday, but the air may remain toxic for certain vulnerable sectors of the population.
Similar advisories were issued by the National Weather Service for Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, and numerous more states.
The White House said on Wednesday that US President Joe Biden has been briefed and is being kept up to date on the continuing Canadian wildfires, which the government has dispatched over 600 firefighters to assist suppress.
According to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre during a briefing on Wednesday, "The President has been regularly updated [on the wildfires in Canada] since he directed his team to provide impacted communities whatever support they need."
Jean Pierre elaborated that the Biden administration is in continuous contact with the government of Canada and has deployed more than 600 firefighters, utilizing equipment like water bombers to help extinguish the raging fires.
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"We also have been in close touch with state and local leaders including in Michigan, Illinois, and New York. And multiple agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, CDC, and FEMA are coordinating with state, local, and tribal governments to get timely and accurate information out to communities about local air quality conditions and what steps they can take to protect themselves," Jean-Pierre added
The government is urging individuals in wildfire-affected regions to listen to state and local officials for updates and to take precautions, such as wearing a mask outside, to prevent any health concerns presented by dirty air.
As smoke from the fires continues to permeate the air as it flows east, Jean-Pierre recommended individuals in afflicted areas follow AirNow.gov for real-time information about air quality in their communities.
For weeks, fires have been burning in Canada as the country experiences high temperatures and unusual wildfire smoke, which is currently heading toward the US, even though the Northwestern states are not usually affected.
Studies show that climate change is leading to larger, more intense, and more frequent wildfires, and described the smoke from these fires as hazardous due to its harmful microscopic particles.