Residents of the northeastern United States were breathing easier Friday as smoke from the Canadian fires gradually dissipated after covering several cities this week.
In New York and Washington, the air quality was classified as “moderate” by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
In the US capital, the sky was blue again on Friday morning, but as a precaution, children in the city’s public schools were still prohibited from spending recess outdoors.
Air quality improved after winds blowing over the Canadian province of Quebec, where the fires are raging, changed direction, Ryan Stauffer, a NASA scientist specializing in air pollution, told AFP.
The concentration of fine particles in the air was up to 20 times lower Friday morning in Washington, compared to the same time Thursday, Stauffer said.
The mayors of New York, Montreal, Toronto, Washington and Philadelphia issued a joint statement Friday saying that “this alarming episode serves as a stark reminder of the damaging impacts the climate crisis is having on cities around the world.”
“Without slashing our use of fossil fuels to at least halve our emissions by 2030, we’ll probably condemn ourselves to a future full of weeks like these.”
More than 111 million people in the United States were under air quality alerts Thursday due to the fires.
Smoke from the Canadian wildfires was also detected thousands of kilometers away in Norway.