June 7, 2023 Canada wildfire smoke and US air quality news

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 8:43 a.m. ET, June 8, 2023
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10:21 a.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Wildfires have burned 15 times the normal area in Canada this year. Here's a look at the numbers

From CNN's Robert Shackelford

The smoke impacting various parts of the US is caused by wildfires raging in Canada.

If you're just getting caught up today, here's what you need to know about the blazes:

  • More than 9 million acres have been charred by wildfires in Canada so far this year — about double the size of New Jersey. For Canada as a whole, this is about 15 times the normal burned area for this point in the year. 
  • More than 2,300 fires have ignited across Canada this year.
  • In Quebec alone, nearly 1 million acres have been burned this year, and more than 430 wildfires have ignited across Quebec so far in 2023 — twice the average for this time of year.
  • There are more than 150 active wildfires burning in Quebec this week, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center – more than double the number of fires burning in any other Canadian province.
10:07 a.m. ET, June 7, 2023

How smoke will affect metro areas in the Northeast today, according to the National Weather Service

National Weather Service offices in the Northeast are warning residents about poor air quality caused by smoke from wildfires in Canada.

View forecasts and tips from the NWS below.

Boston:

New York:

Mount Holly, New Jersey, and Philadelphia:

Baltimore and Washington, DC:

11:27 a.m. ET, June 7, 2023

New Jersey governor encourages limiting outdoor activities as wildfire smoke causes poor air quality

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during the 2023 State of the State Address at the New Jersey State House in Trenton, New Jersey, on January 10.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during the 2023 State of the State Address at the New Jersey State House in Trenton, New Jersey, on January 10. Aristide Economopoulos/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is warning people who are sensitive to the impact of air quality to limit strenuous activities and time outdoors as smoke from Canadian wildfires impacts the state along with other areas in the Northeast, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic regions.

The warning pertains to people with heart or lung disease, as well as the elderly and young, the governor’s office said.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has declared an Air Quality Action Day Wednesday, saying levels of “fine particulates will rise into the unhealthy range for sensitive groups statewide,” the state said in a release 

The statewide alert will likely go into the evening hours, the state said in a release.

9:42 a.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Check out the air quality in your city with this interactive tracker

From CNN's Daniel Wolfe, Renée Rigdon, Kaeti Hinck and Sean O’Key

Wildfire smoke creates fine particulate matter that can linger in the atmosphere and spread from coast to coast

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in large quantities, this microscopic dust is linked to cardiovascular disease also associated with smoking cigarettes.

The EPA measures regional air quality index (AQI) by how hazardous it is to the general public.

As of 9:30 a.m. ET, cities in Ontario have the worst air quality in the world, with AQIs surpassing 400, which is considered hazardous. Philadelphia has an AQI of 173, which is considered unhealthy.

Discover your AQI in this interactive tracker.

9:33 a.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Here's today's forecast for different parts of the US impacted by the wildfire smoke

From CNN's Robert Shackelford

As the fires in Quebec continue to burn, the heaviest smoke is forecast to impact the Northeast through the mid-Atlantic and down to the Carolinas on Wednesday. Smoke conditions in those regions could also persist through at least Thursday.

Cities including New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, are expected to see their air quality improve throughout the day.

But the air over Boston, Pittsburgh and Raleigh, North Carolina, is forecast to worsen Wednesday.

  • Heaviest smoke is forecast to impact the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, down through the Carolinas.
  • New York is currently at "unhealthy" levels and expected to drop to "unhealthy for sensitive groups," level 3 of 6. 
  • Philadelphia is at "very unhealthy" levels and is expected to drop to "unhealthy for sensitive groups" through the day.
  • Boston is at "moderate" levels, level 2 of 6, and is expected to worsen to "unhealthy for sensitive groups." 
  • Baltimore is at "unhealthy" level and is expected to remain at a level 4 of 6 through the day. 
  • Pittsburgh is at "moderate" levels and is expected to worsen to "unhealthy for sensitive groups."
  • Washington, DC, is at "unhealthy" levels and is expected to improve slightly to "unhealthy for sensitive groups."
  • Richmond, Virginia, is at "unhealthy for sensitive groups" and is expected remain at this level through the day.
  • Raleigh, North Carolina, is at "unhealthy for sensitive groups" level and is expected to worsen to "unhealthy" through the day. 

Watch more from CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam here:

5:49 p.m. ET, June 7, 2023

New York state and city public schools canceled outdoor activities due to air quality concerns

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

People walk along a pier in Transmitter Park as the Manhattan skyline is shrouded in smoke from Canada wildfires on June 6.
People walk along a pier in Transmitter Park as the Manhattan skyline is shrouded in smoke from Canada wildfires on June 6. AP

New York City residents are being urged to stay indoors as air quality continues to deteriorate due to smoke coming from wildfires in Canada, Mayor Eric Adams said in a late Tuesday statement.

The city's public schools are open but will be canceling all outdoor activities due to the air-quality alert, the school district said in a statement on its website. 

The city school system has over 2,000 public and charter schools in its system serving over 1 million students.

Separately, at least 10 school districts in central New York state canceled outdoor activities and events Tuesday. The activities included academic, athletic and extracurricular events, while outdoor recess and gym classes were also canceled, school district announcements said.

9:37 a.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Wildfire smoke spread west into Detroit and Chicago too

From CNN's Derek Van Dam and Rachel Ramirez

Detroit was listed in air quality technology company IQAir’s top 10 worst locations for air pollution on Wednesday morning. Chicago’s air quality was moderate on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to remain moderate for the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s air quality was at unhealthy levels, with forecasts showing a slight shift to unhealthy level for sensitive groups – like the elderly, young children and those with respiratory issues – on Tuesday before returning to moderate by Wednesday. The city was under an air quality alert all of Tuesday.

A cold front is expected to move south over the next few days, pushing smoke farther south and east throughout the week.

CNN’s Robert Shackelford, Jennifer Gray and Monica Garrett contributed to this report.

9:59 a.m. ET, June 7, 2023

New York City’s air pollution among the world’s worst due to Canada wildfires

From CNN's Derek Van Dam and Rachel Ramirez

The Statue of Liberty in New York is obscured by the pollution caused by wildfires in Canada on June 6.
The Statue of Liberty in New York is obscured by the pollution caused by wildfires in Canada on June 6. Amr Alfiky/Reuters

New York City topped the list of the world’s worst air pollution for parts of Tuesday as harmful smoke wafted south from more than a hundred wildfires burning in Quebec.

The city's air quality index was above 200 at one point Tuesday night – a level that is “very unhealthy,” according to IQAir. The city had the worst quality of air of any major metropolitan area Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET, according to IQAir.

Later Tuesday night, New York City had the second-worst levels of air pollution in the world after New Delhi, India, IQair reported. Other cities on the list were Doha, Qatar; Baghdad, Iraq; and Lahore, Pakistan.

New York City also briefly topped the list on Tuesday morning.

CNN’s Robert Shackelford, Jennifer Gray and Monica Garrett contributed to this report.

11:29 a.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Canada wildfire smoke shrouds Northeast

From CNN's Derek Van Dam and Rachel Ramirez

A woman walks her dog along the Ottawa River in Ottawa as smoke from wildfires obscures Gatineau, Quebec, in the distance on June 6.
A woman walks her dog along the Ottawa River in Ottawa as smoke from wildfires obscures Gatineau, Quebec, in the distance on June 6. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/AP

Smoke from Canada’s fires has periodically engulfed the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic for more than a week, raising concerns over the harms of persistent poor air quality.

There are more than 150 active wildfires burning in Quebec this week, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center – more than double the number of fires burning in any other Canadian province.

More than 400 wildfires have ignited across Quebec so far in 2023, twice the average for this time of year. Nearly 9 million acres have been charred by wildfires in Canada so far this year, with nearly half a million acres burned across Quebec alone.

Air quality alerts were in effect across parts of the Northeast and the Midwest on Tuesday as wildfire smoke spread west into Detroit and Chicago.

Wildfire smoke contains very tiny particulate matter, or PM2.5 —the tiniest pollutant — yet also the most dangerous. When inhaled, it can travel deep into lung tissue and enter the bloodstream. It comes from sources like the combustion of fossil fuels, dust storms and wildfires, and has been linked to a number of health problems including asthmaheart disease and other respiratory illnesses.

CNN’s Robert Shackelford, Jennifer Gray and Monica Garrett contributed to this report.