wildfire smoke air pollution
Credit: Anthony Quintano/Flickr/Creative Commons

Wildfire smoke from Canada significantly worsened US air quality in 2023

Wildfire smoke crossing from Canada contributed to a spike in air pollution levels and negative public health outcomes.

Sachi Mulkey reports for Grist.


In short:

  • The World Air Quality Report by IQAir revealed that U.S. air pollution levels nearly doubled WHO's acceptable limits, with significant pollution spikes in cities like Milwaukee.
  • Despite improvements, U.S. cities faced unhealthy air quality due to Canadian wildfire smoke, impacting health and contributing to diseases like respiratory illnesses and cancers.
  • New EPA standards aim to reduce air pollution, but wildfire smoke remains a challenge, potentially undoing progress made in air quality improvements.

Key quote:

“We really want to encourage people to treat air quality just like they would treat the weather, look to see what the air quality is before you spend extensive time outdoors.”

— Christi Chester Schroeder, air quality science manager at IQAir

Why this matters:

Air quality events precipitated by wildfire smoke exemplifies a need for cross-border environmental cooperation and effective fire management strategies in the face of a warming climate and longer wildfire seasons. LISTEN: Carlos Gould on wildfire smoke and our health.

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