Officials in New York, Toronto, and Ottawa are warning residents of the health risks associated with smoke-contaminated air resulting from unprecedented early summer wildfires in eastern Canada. The unusually early and intense wildfire season has affected nearly all 10 Canadian provinces and territories, with Quebec being the most affected. The state of New York has issued health advisories for several counties, advising residents to limit strenuous outdoor exercise to reduce the risk of adverse health effects. Air quality in Ottawa was at its worst level, indicating a very high risk. The air above Toronto is also polluted and expected to continue for most of the week.
People with lung or heart conditions, the elderly, children, and pregnant women are at higher health risks from wildfire smoke. Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie thanked the United States, Mexico, South Africa, and France for sending firefighters to assist. Wildfires are common in western Canadian provinces, but this year, the blazes are increasing rapidly in eastern Canada. The wildfires have burned 3.3 million hectares, about 13 times the 10-year average, and forced over 120,000 people to leave their homes temporarily. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urges residents to continue to listen to local authorities on how to keep people safe.