Wildfire smoke in the west causes national air pollution Reuters


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© Reuters. On July 19, 2021, firefighters work in areas affected by piracy fires near Bligh, Oregon, USA. REUTERS/David Ryder

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Authors: Peter Szekely and Steve Gorman

(Reuters)-Wildfires ravage the western United States and Canada, including a two-week “monster” fire in Oregon. Heavy smoke and soot from Tuesday hit the east and caused harmful air as far as New York City. Pollution.

According to data from the National Interagency Fire Protection Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho, in 13 western states, there have been more than 80 large-scale active wildfires in recent weeks, destroying nearly 1.3 million acres (526,090 hectares) of drought The area of ​​vegetation is larger than that of Lahua.

Hundreds of fires broke out in western and central Canada. These included 86 people who were listed as out of control in British Columbia alone on Tuesday, causing officials there to declare a state of emergency.

Jets and other transcontinental air currents have carried smoke and ashes thousands of miles away. People in distant cities all feel air pollution in their eyes, noses and lungs.

In New York City, the Manhattan skyline is shrouded in gray haze, and the Air Quality Index (AQI) of fine particulate matter reached 170. This level is considered harmful even to healthy people and is higher than the World Health Organization’s exposure recommendations 9 times. Philadelphia reached 172.

Other northeastern cities, including Boston and Hartford, Connecticut, have unhealthy areas with readings above 150. It is recommended that residents wear masks outdoors to limit contact.

NIFC meteorologist Nick Nauslar said that wildfires in Manitoba and Ontario, Canada, have dispersed in the United States, which may push the air quality index of Detroit and Cleveland above 125, which is unhealthy for sensitive people. of. Wildfire smoke from the western provinces of Canada reaches as far east as Ontario, prompting the government to issue extensive air quality warnings.

In the western United States, parts of Idaho and Montana caused unhealthy air pollution levels due to smoke from 40 nearby fires and the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon (currently the largest fire in the United States).

According to a study released by the University of Alberta this week, extensive exposure to wildfire smoke is associated with long-term respiratory consequences for firefighters, including a sharp increase in the risk of asthma.

The general population also faces serious health effects.

Federal Air Resources Consultant Margaret Key said in an email: “Exposure to wildfire smoke…increases susceptibility to respiratory infections, including COVID, and increases the severity of such infections. And make recovery more difficult.”

“Monster” fire enters its third week

The wildfire itself poses a more direct risk to life and property.

Since the outbreak on July 6, the Bootleg fire has blackened 388,600 acres (157,260 hectares) of dry shrubs and wood in and around the Fremont-Vinema National Forest, about 250 miles south of Portland. In the past century, only three other Oregon wildfires have burned more territory.

As of Tuesday, an army of about 2,200 personnel had successfully drawn a containment line in 30% of the area outside the fire site, and the fire spread further east and north.

Incident Commander Rob Allen stated in his daily report that the dry fire fuel in the fire zone will “continue to burn and produce smoke for several weeks.”

“Putting out this fire is a marathon, not a sprint,” Allen wrote. “As long as we can safely contain this monster, we will always be here.”

At least 67 houses were destroyed, another 3,400 were listed as threatened, and an estimated 2,100 people were ordered to evacuate or prepared to flee immediately.

The western fires marked the beginning of the wildfire season more severe than normal, coincided with record high temperatures, and most of the area was scorched in recent weeks, killing hundreds of people.

Scientists say that the frequency and intensity of wildfires continue to increase, mainly due to the continuous increase in high temperature weather caused by long-term drought and climate change.

The Bootleg fire is so big that it sometimes produces its own weather-towering volcanic cumulus clouds of condensed moisture are drawn from the burning vegetation and the surrounding air through the smoke plume of the fire.These clouds generate lightning storms and strong winds, which can ignite new fires and spread flames





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