On Sunday, air quality alerts were issued in at least 11 states across the Midwest, Plains, and Great Lakes regions due to the persistent presence of smoke emanating from Canadian wildfires, which continues to affect the United States.
As predicted by forecasters, almost 60 million people from Montana to Ohio will face poor air quality and decreased visibility, which also includes residents of Cedar Rapids, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cleveland.
The Air Quality Index was in the the “unhealthy” range which ranks between Level 4 of 6, on Sunday in a large expanse of the northern Plains from Montana through Illinois.
“While the concentration of smoke in the atmosphere should begin to wane by Monday, there is still enough smoke to support unhealthy air quality that is unhealthy for sensitive groups in parts of these regions into the start of the upcoming week,” the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Centre stated.
Smoke to get pushed eastwards
As stated by the experts, smoke will be pushed eastwards by the winds which will lead to a smoky haze to the Northeast early in the week. The British Columbia Wildfire Service said that the plume rose from 400 fires ignited in the province of British Columbia in the last week, almost half of which were started after 51,000 lightning strikes took place from thunderstorms.
Canadian authorities on Sunday announced the death of a second firefighter due to the wildfires.
“We regret to share the tragic news that a firefighter from Fort Liard has passed away from an injury sustained while fighting a wildfire in the Fort Liard District Saturday afternoon,” said Canada’s Northwest Territories, in a statement.
The death of the first firefighter, who was fighting a blaze near southeastern British Columbia’s town Revelstoke, was confirmed by the officials on Thursday.
“I’m incredibly saddened by the news from the Northwest Territories, that another firefighter has lost their life battling wildfires,” tweeted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday. “To their family, their friends, and those they were heroically serving alongside: Canadians are keeping you in our thoughts. We’re here for you,” he added.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said that wildfire smoke is filled with tiny pollutants which are known as particle matter or PM 2.5 and can get into the bloodstream and lungs once inhaled.
It added that the pollutants generally cause irritation in the eyes and throat and difficulty breathing and have been related to more serious long-term health issues like lung cancer.