top of page

IN PHOTOS: A look at how bad air quality is across North America



Air quality alerts have popped up across Canada and the U.S. due to smoke from wildfires.

Most of southern and eastern Ontario, as well as southern Quebec, are currently under special air quality statements. Statements are also present in northern Alberta and parts of the Northwest Territories.



Hazy Toronto skyline. Global News




The sun breaks through smoke just north of Peterborough, Ont. An air quality statement remains in effect for the region. Greg Davis/Global News Peterborough


“High levels of air pollution have developed due to smoke from forest fires,” read a statement from Environment Canada regarding Ontario. “Smoke plumes from forest fires in northeastern Ontario and Quebec have resulted in deteriorated air quality. Poor air quality will persist into the weekend.”


Story continues below advertisement

Smoggy air could clearly be seen in Canadian cities, including Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, as well as in New York City. Visibility could be low, while the smoke created an eerie hazy sun hanging over the scenes.



Pedestrians pass the One World Trade Center, center, amidst a smokey haze from wildfires in Canada, Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in New York. Smoke from Canadian wildfires poured into the U.S. East Coast and Midwest on Wednesday, covering the capitals of both nations in an unhealthy haze, holding up flights at major airports and prompting people to fish out pandemic-era face masks. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson).




Traffic moves along West Street past One World Trade Center, Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in New York, amidst smokey haze from wildfires in Canada. Smoke from Canadian wildfires poured into the U.S. East Coast and Midwest on Wednesday, covering the capitals of both nations in an unhealthy haze, holding up flights at major airports and prompting people to fish out pandemic-era face masks. (AP Photo/Andy Bao).




New York Yankees’ Clarke Schmidt pitches to Chicago White Sox’s Tim Anderson during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday in New York. Smoke from Canadian wildfires has travelled into the United States, resulting in a number of air quality alerts issued since May. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II).


An “unhealthy” category of air quality was given to much of the U.S. northeast, including New York state, while a “moderate” category has been placed across the central east part of the country, according to the U.S. agency AirNow.


Story continues below advertisement

Ottawa is currently under a 10+ “very high risk” Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) value, according to Environment Canada, while Toronto and Montreal have a value of seven, or “high risk.”

According to the agency, an AQHI value of 10+ is usually due to very high levels of fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5. The value is the highest risk category and can’t go any higher although air pollution and health risks may increase. Environment Canada says a 10+ value means “everyone’s health is at risk” and recommends taking precautions and following the advice of health officials.



A man pauses to look at the smoke and haze shrouding One World Trade Center building in New York City, Wednesday, June 7, 2023. Intense Canadian wildfires are blanketing the northeastern U.S. in a haze, turning the air acrid and the sky yellowish gray. (AP Photo/J. David Ake).




A man talks on his phone as he looks through the haze at the George Washington Bridge from Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Wednesday, June 7, 2023. Intense Canadian wildfires are blanketing the northeastern U.S. in a dystopian haze, turning the air acrid, the sky yellowish gray and prompting warnings for vulnerable populations to stay inside. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig).




Smoke from wildfires burning across both Ontario and Quebec blanket the skyline in Kingston, Ont., on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg.




Smoke persists in the Peterborough area. Greg Davis/Global News Peterborough


Fine-particle pollution can irritate the lungs and the particles are the “right size” to get past our upper airway defences and into the lungs, according to Dr. David Hill, a pulmonologist in Waterbury, Conn.

Trending Now




Story continues below advertisement

“When those particles get down into the respiratory space, they cause the body to have an inflammatory reaction to them,” he told the Associated Press.

The poor air quality in Ontario and Quebec has prompted school boards to limit outdoor activity and hold recesses inside.

Air quality index levels were forecasted to peak at high risk in many other Ontario cities, from Windsor through to Toronto and north to Sudbury.

More than 200 forest fires are burning across northern Ontario and Quebec.



In this GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Monday at 7 p.m. EDT and provided by CIRA/NOAA, smoke from wildfires burning in Quebec, top centre, drifts southward. (CIRA/NOAA via AP).




A person sits on a bench overlooking Riverdale Park East in Toronto on Tuesday, as the city remains under a special air quality statement caused by forest fires. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Rachel Verbin. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Rachel Verbin


— with files from the Canadian Press and the Associated Press.


&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

0 views