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Wildfires in Canada Lead to Poor Air Quality in the Eastern U.S. & How Californians Can Prepare for Smoky Skies

Canadians are no stranger to summertime wildfires, but the scale and intensity this early in the season has been unprecedented. At the end of June, nearly 20 million acres have burned across Canada with two more peak wildfire months to go. The intense smoke has led to extremely poor air quality across the Eastern U.S in cities such as Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago and New York. Classes were canceled, hospitals saw an increase in asthma cases, and people were urged to mask up with high quality respirators and stay indoors. 

Southern California residents may remember the 2020 wildfire season when large portions of the Southland experienced multiple days of poor air quality with over four million acres burned throughout the state, doubling the previous record of two million acres. While smoke impacts in 2021 and 2022 were not as widespread, South Coast AQMD encourages residents to prepare. Wildfire smoke is a health risk for everyone, but older adults, children, pregnant women and people with heart or lung disease (such as asthma) may be especially sensitive to health risks from wildfire smoke. 

Download the South Coast AQMD mobile app to view real-time and forecasted air quality. You can find information on the steps you can take before, during and after a wildfire to stay safe and obtain a list of additional resources by visiting our Wildfire Smoke & Ash Health & Safety Tips webpage.

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