As fierce wildfires continue to ravage through Canada, millions of individuals residing in North America have been issued warnings about the hazardous air quality levels in their regions.

Ontario and Quebec were covered in smoke, and a hazy orange color was seen in many parts of the northeastern United States starting on Tuesday and continuing into Wednesday.

For a short period of time, Toronto and New York were listed among the cities with the most polluted air across the globe during the nighttime.

A large amount of smoke is originating from Quebec due to the occurrence of around 160 fires in the area.

Authorities in Canada have announced that the nation is preparing for its most severe occurrence of wildfires ever documented.

Specialists have identified that a spring that is hotter and has less rainfall than usual is the cause of this pattern. These circumstances are anticipated to persist during the summer season.

On Tuesday, Environment Canada gave out a severe air quality alert for Ottawa, declaring it a "very high" health hazard for individuals.

The air quality in Toronto and nearby regions was labeled as "high risk".

In the meantime, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States has categorized the condition of the air in a significant portion of the north-eastern region as "unhealthy," which can be particularly detrimental for individuals who already suffer from respiratory problems.

It is estimated that approximately 100 million individuals across North America are currently being alerted about their air quality.

The skyline of New York was covered with a layer of orange haze, which also enveloped famous structures like the Statue of Liberty.

Mayor Eric Adams has announced that outdoor activities in public schools within the city have been suspended until further notice. He has also cautioned that conditions are likely to worsen later in the day.

He advised that all individuals residing in New York should try to reduce their outdoor activities as much as possible.

People who live in the city reported that on Wednesday morning, the scent of smoke resembled that of a bonfire.

Air pollution levels in the Washington DC region were classified as "code red" on Wednesday morning, indicating extremely poor air quality. Meanwhile, IQAir’s air pollution rankings placed Detroit as the fifth most polluted city in the world.

Health experts are advising the public to avoid outdoor physical activities and reduce their exposure to smoke due to the severe health hazards it poses both in the short and long term.

The declining condition of the air has resulted in the relocation of people suffering from respiratory issues like asthma, in the Atikamekw community of Opitciwan, located 350km (217 miles) away from Montreal in Quebec, due to the smoke.

The wildfires in Canada have devastated over 3.3 million hectares of land, which is 12 times larger than the average area affected during this time of the year over the past decade.

Numerous individuals have been relocated throughout the nation.

In addition to Quebec, large-scale wildfires are currently ablaze in several other Canadian provinces and territories including British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and the Northwest Territories.

The likelihood of wildfires is higher when the weather is hot and dry, and climate change is contributing to an increase in such conditions.

Since the start of the industrial era, the Earth’s temperature has increased by approximately 1.2C. However, this trend will continue unless there are significant reductions in emissions by governments worldwide.

The impact of wildfire smoke on your health is a matter of concern. Specialists warn that being exposed to it can lead to a wide range of health problems.

According to Matthew Adams, who is a professor at the University of Toronto and also the head of the Centre of Urban Environments, inhaling wildfire smoke can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, an elevated pulse, or inflammation in the eyes, nose, and throat. These effects can be experienced immediately.

According to Prof Adams, when the air pollution is high, there is a rise in the number of hospital visits. The patients who visit the hospital usually have a respiratory disease that already exists.

According to Professor Adams, frequent exposure to wildfire smoke can lead to severe and prolonged health problems such as lung disease and cancer. These risks are particularly high for individuals residing in regions that frequently experience forest fires.

According to him, the presence of tiny particles in the smoke haze can result in various health problems, including DNA mutations, as they can travel through the bloodstream and affect different parts of the human body.

According to Professor Adams, research has indicated that pregnant women and their fetuses can be negatively impacted by being exposed to wildfire smoke for an extended period of time.

If you are living in a city that is far away from the fires but is currently under air advisories, Professor Adams suggests that you should reduce outdoor activities to prevent inhaling the smoke from the wildfire.

He advised not to worry too much about it and suggested staying indoors to lower the chance of being exposed.

When living in regions close to the fires, it is advised by Professor Adams to wear an N95 mask when going outside. The mask will help prevent the inhalation of a majority of the smoke particles.

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