Millions of Americans were warned on Monday about the poor air quality in several cities including Chicago, Detroit and New York. The situation was caused by forest fires in Canada and, according to authorities, could last until next Tuesday. In addition, it is expected to affect 23 states, approximately 70 million people. The air is carrying pollution particles from a wave of fires that is raging wildly across Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec.
— Gary Hershorn (@GaryHershorn) July 18, 2023
"Unfortunately, the wildfire smoke will begin to make a return to the region to start the new week," according to a statement from the National Weather Service in the Philadelphia area reported by The New York Times.
Smoke seriously affects people and the danger lies in the fine particles that the fires are emitting into the air. Air exposure may cause short-term health problems such as eye, nose and throat irritation; coughing; sneezing; runny nose and difficulty breathing.
Crisis in Canada
This is something that experts have been warning the public about for some time. Although Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insists it is due to climate change, the reality is that his policy for dealing with wildfires is insufficient. For years, experts have been warning that governments need to invest more money into dealing with fires. Similarly, some indigenous groups have asked the government to allow them to set controlled fires, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to get approval. This practice had helped for years to prevent uncontrolled forest fires.
According to former Yunesit'in Chief Russell Myers Ross, who heads the community fire management program, "It's as simple as lighting a match. But the way the province deals with things, they want heavy equipment on the site. They want big hoses, they want a lot of equipment and high-priced personnel."
An editorial published last year by The Globe and Mail highlighted the need for Canada to invest more money into addressing wildfires. However, the media outlet reported last month that the Canadian Parliament was not discussing the fire situation. "Even as Canada’s worst-ever wildfire season drove smoke into the halls of Parliament and caught in the throats of MPs, it did not drive political debate," said the editor-in-chief of the Toronto Star in Ottawa.