As wildfires rage across Canada, millions of individuals in North America have been alerted to hazardous air quality levels.

Ontario and Quebec were covered in smoke, and the north-eastern United States had an orange haze on Tuesday and Wednesday. Air quality in Toronto and New York briefly became some of the worst in the world overnight.

The majority of the smoke is originating from Quebec, where there are currently 160 active fires.

Officials in Canada have stated that this year’s wildfire season is expected to be the most severe in the country’s history.

Specialists have attributed the trend to a spring that has been warmer and drier than usual. These circumstances are expected to persist throughout the summer.

On Tuesday, Environment Canada declared that the air quality in Ottawa posed a significant danger to people’s health, labeling it as a "very high risk".

The air quality in Toronto and its surrounding areas has been labeled as "high risk".

The air quality in a large portion of the north-east region of the United States has been labeled as "unhealthy" by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), particularly for individuals who already suffer from respiratory problems.

It is estimated that approximately 100 million individuals residing in North America are currently under some type of air quality advisory.

The sky’s skyline in New York was covered with a hazy orange layer that also concealed the Statue of Liberty and other notable landmarks.

Mayor Eric Adams has announced the indefinite suspension of all outdoor activities in public schools due to the expected deterioration of conditions later today.

According to him, it is advisable for all residents of New York to minimize their outdoor activities as much as they can.

The inhabitants of the city stated that the scent of smoke during Wednesday morning was reminiscent of a bonfire.

The air quality in Washington DC was marked as "code red" on Wednesday morning, indicating a significant level of pollution. Detroit was also ranked as the fifth most polluted location in the world on IQAir’s air pollution rankings.

Authorities in charge of public health have advised individuals to refrain from outdoor exercise and limit their contact with the smoke as much as possible. This is due to the fact that the air contains health hazards that can have both immediate and long-term effects on the body.

In Quebec, the Atikamekw community of Opitciwan, which is located 350km (217 miles) north of Montreal, has been impacted by worsening air quality. This has resulted in the community having to relocate individuals who have asthma and other respiratory problems to prevent them from being affected by the smoke.

The wildfires in Canada have already destroyed over 3.3 million hectares of land, which is 12 times greater than the average amount of land burned during this time period in the past decade.

Numerous individuals have been forced to leave their homes and relocate to safer areas

In addition to Quebec, significant wildfires are currently raging in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and the Northwest Territories.

The likelihood of wildfires is increased by the hot and dry weather that is brought on by climate change.

Since the start of the industrial era, the Earth’s temperature has increased by approximately 1.2 degrees Celsius. Without significant reductions in global emissions by governments, temperatures will continue to rise.

What are the health effects of breathing in wildfire smoke? According to experts, it can lead to a range of health problems.

According to Matthew Adams, who is a professor at the University of Toronto and also the director of its Centre of Urban Environments, the initial consequences of inhaling smoke from wildfires can be having difficulties in breathing, an increased heart rate, chest discomfort, or swelling in the eyes, nose, and throat.

According to Professor Adams, during days with high levels of air pollution, there will be more hospital visits and those who visit the hospital usually already have a respiratory disease.

According to Professor Adams, exposure to wildfire smoke may cause severe and lasting health problems such as lung disease or cancer. This is especially true for individuals residing in regions that frequently experience forest fires.

According to him, the smoke haze contains tiny particles that can get into the human body through the bloodstream. These particles have the potential to cause health problems, including DNA mutations.

According to Professor Adams, research suggests that pregnant women and their fetuses can be negatively impacted by prolonged exposure to smoke from wildfires.

Prof Adams recommended that individuals residing in cities that are distant from the wildfires but fall under the present air advisories should restrict their outdoor activities to prevent inhaling the smoke produced by the fires.

He advised not to worry and suggested staying indoors to minimize contact with it.

In regions nearer to the fires, Prof Adams advised individuals to wear an N95 mask while going out to prevent the inhalation of the majority of smoke particles.

Subject matter:

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