Unhealthy Air Isn't in a Hurry to Move Out

An online tool lets you check your area's air quality
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2023 2:11 PM CDT
Online Tool Lets You Check Your Air Quality
The Pennsylvania Capitol, seen from across the Susquehanna River, is shrouded in a haze Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Harrisburg, Pa.   (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

Much of the East Coast is a smoky place these days—and a potentially hazardous one for those with breathing ailments or anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors. The latest on the haze blanketing the skies as a result of wildfires in Canada:

  • Check yours: The AirNow.gov site allows you to plug in your zip code and get the current air quality in your area. It's a collaboration of the EPA, the NOAA, and other federal agencies.
  • The map: CNN is updating this map every 30 minutes. It's a color-coded way to see where the smoke is most dangerous in the US.

  • Look out, Pittsburgh? Generally speaking, cities such as New York and Philadelphia in the Northeast have seen the worst of it as the hazy air pushed south on Thursday. That's not so great for places like DC, where, among other things, the Washington Nationals game on Thursday was canceled. (The Yankees, meanwhile, were going ahead with a double-header in New York after canceling Wednesday's game.) A lot of variables are in play, but Accuweather reports that "some of the densest smoke may begin to be directed farther to the west, including locations such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit."
  • Moving slowly: The AP notes that the fires in Canada have sent "plumes of fine particulate matter" as far away as North Carolina and northern Europe. And the low-pressure weather system responsible "will probably be hanging around at least for the next few days,” says National Weather Service meteorologist Bryan Ramsey. “Conditions are likely to remain unhealthy, at least until the wind direction changes or the fires get put out." However, given the size of the fires, "it's really just going to be about the wind shift."
  • Our times: In a New York Times essay, Virginia Tech engineering professor Linsey Marr takes note of the unhealthy skies and poses a question: "Why aren’t we doing more about the quality of the air we breathe?" Marr suggests that we pay far more attention to water and food quality and that it's time to close this gap. This includes stricter rules on ventilation in buildings such as schools and work offices.
(Read more air quality stories.)

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