GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan isn’t the only place dealing with extreme wildfire risks. Wildfires continue to rage across parts of Canada, and the smoke is driving down the air quality in southeast Michigan.
IQAir, a technology company focused on the health impacts of air pollution, says Detroit currently has the second-worst quality air in the United States and the fourth-worst in the world.
As Bridge Detroit reporter Malachi Barrett eloquently put it Thursday evening, “I think I can taste the wildfire.”
As of 9:30 a.m., Detroit had an air quality index of 157 — just behind New York City’s 161 — but well below Dehli, India’s 191. Wildfires release large quantities of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, two of the six pollutants measured to comprise the air quality index.
New York City and other parts of the Midwest and the Northeast are also dealing with poor air quality because of the Canadian wildfires. NYC’s public school system canceled all outdoor activities on Tuesday because of poor air quality.
As of Tuesday, 414 wildfires were burning across Canada — 150 of them in Quebec — and more than 6.7 million acres of land have already burned.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 7 million people die each year because of complications stemming from poor air quality and 91% of the world’s population lives in areas with air quality below WHO safety thresholds.
According to IQAir, breathing in wildfire smoke has both short- and long-term health effects. Smoke can cause chest pain, coughing, irregular heartbeats and aggravate asthma. In the long term, wildfire smoke can damage lung tissue, trigger other illnesses including bronchitis and emphysema and even cause cancer.
IQAir recommends avoiding exercising outdoors during days with poor air quality and to wear a mask whenever possible.