News outlets report on weather system patterns that suggest the blanket of smoke from Canadian wildfires will hang over the U.S. for days. Potentially unhealthy air quality conditions, particularly for vulnerable people like children who have asthma, are likely to remain.
Smoky Haze Blanketing US, Canada Could Last For Days As Wildfires Rage, Winds Won't Budge
The weather system that’s driving the great Canadian-American smoke out — a low-pressure system over Maine and Nova Scotia — “will probably be hanging around at least for the next few days,” U.S. National Weather Service meteorologist Bryan Ramsey said. “Conditions are likely to remain unhealthy, at least until the wind direction changes or the fires get put out,” Ramsey said. “Since the fires are raging — they’re really large — they’re probably going to continue for weeks. But it’s really just going be all about the wind shift.” (Peltz, Gillies and Sisak, 6/8)
Children With Asthma Will Struggle Most With Wildfire Smoke, Air Quality In Philadelphia
As the chief of the emergency department at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in North Philadelphia, James Reingold often sees kids struggling to breathe as they cross his hospital’s doorstep. Children in the neighborhoods around the hospital have some of the highest rates of asthma in the city. “That’s not because Hispanic and Black children have an inherent difference in how they respond to asthma,” Reingold said. “It’s just a marker for where they live, what pollution they’re exposed to and what other chronic stress they’re under.” (Whelan, Ruderman, Pananjady and Gutman, 6/7)
Masking For Smoke Isn’t Like Masking For COVID
Late last night, New Yorkers were served a public-health recommendation with a huge helping of déjà vu: “If you are an older adult or have heart or breathing problems and need to be outside,” city officials said in a statement, “wear a high-quality mask (e.g. N95 or KN95).” It was, in one sense, very familiar advice—and also very much not. This time, the threat isn’t viral, or infectious at all. (Wu, 6/7)
The Washington Post:
How To Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke And Levels Of Poor Air Quality
Smoke from wildfires mostly consists of fine particles known as PM2.5, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. These particles “are of greatest health concern,” the EPA notes. ... The EPA recommends using a “particulate respirator” tested and approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health when trying to protect yourself from wildfire smoke or ash. It should have the words “NIOSH” and either “N95” or “P100” printed on it. It should also have two straps to go above and below your ears — otherwise it will not seal well enough to protect your lungs. (Chiu, 6/7)
The New York Times:
How to Keep Indoor Air Clean if You Don’t Have an Air Purifier
An air purifier, like one that uses a HEPA filter, is the best way to improve the quality of your indoor air — but if you are staying inside to avoid wildfire smoke and don’t have access to an air filter, there are a few other things you can do to keep the air in your home as clean as possible. The next best tool after an air purifier is an air-conditioner, said Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonary and critical care medicine physician at Johns Hopkins Medicine. (Blum, 6/7)
The Washington Post:
Is It Safe To Exercise Outdoors When The Air Quality Is Bad?
The answer, experts say, depends on your health, fitness and age. ... Air quality in the Orange range is considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” which includes people with asthma or other respiratory conditions, young children and the elderly. If you’re not among those groups, most experts say it’s reasonable to exercise outside while the air quality index is Orange. But don’t be surprised if your clothes and hair smell of smoke after spending time outdoors. (Reynolds, 6/7)
Biden Speaks With Trudeau About Canadian Wildfires As Air Quality Issues Persist In US
President Biden on Wednesday spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and offered federal support to respond to wildfires burning in Canada, which have caused widespread air quality issues across the eastern United States. Biden directed his administration to deploy “all available Federal firefighting assets that can rapidly assist in suppressing fires impacting Canadian and American communities,” the White House said in a readout of the call. (Samuels, 6/7)
Summers Are Heating Up Fastest In These Cities
Summers have gotten hotter in many cities across the U.S. over the past five decades, per a new analysis by climate research group Climate Central. Between 1970 and 2022, summer temperatures rose by 2.4°F on average across nearly 230 locations — 95% of the locations the group analyzed. (Fitzpatrick and Lysik, 6/8)
This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.