New York City still under ‘toxic smog’ from wildfire smoke as air pollution hits record

New York continues to choke under a thick cloud of a ‘Mars-like’ smog – with residents urged to stay indoors as toxic particles blanket the city.

An orange haze is blocking out much of New York City and turning the Manhattan skyline into an ‘apocalyptic’ scene.

New Yorkers have said the fog, which is flowing from wildfires in Canada, ‘looks like something from Mars.’

Authorities are also urged people to stay inside and wear a mask if they have to go outdoors – many have also said the smog is “making it hard to breathe.”

The “Code Red” air quality alert has been extended and is in place for a third day as forecasts show smoky winds are continuing to push the ‘hazardous’ air south.

A remarkable video has captured the rapid decline in visibility in New York City.

The footage, shared by the National Weather Service on Twitter, revealed a clear skyline at 11 am (local time), but by 2pm, the smoke had thickened, transforming the skyscrapers into a hazy orange blur.

The NWS described the scene as “almost unbelievable.”

The air pollution reached a “hazardous” level of 484, the worst since the 1960s, according to Mayor Eric Adams.

On a typical day, the air index in New York City is around 100.

The thick and dangerous haze caused by wildfires in Quebec and Nova Scotia has blanketed the US and Canada affecting millions of people as air pollution has reached record levels.
More than 400 blazes burning across Canada have left 20,000 people displaced.

Code red alerts are part of the Air Quality Index (AQI), which ranks air quality on a 500-point scale using a colour-coded system.

The lower end of the scale, represented by green, signifies healthy air, while the higher ends, such as red, purple, and maroon, indicate hazardous and extremely unhealthy conditions.

An AQI level of red is considered unhealthy for all individuals, while purple is deemed “hazardous” for everyone.

Presently, New York City’s air quality is categorized as purple, indicating hazardous conditions.

The weather systems 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,” US National Weather Service meteorologist Bryan Ramsey said

Thick, hazardous haze from wildfires is disrupting daily life in the US and Canada ( Image: China News Service via Getty Ima)

This situation has disrupted daily life, with people avoiding outdoor activities, flights being delayed, and a resurgence in mask-wearing and remote work.

There are concerns about the health effects of prolonged exposure to such poor air quality.

Across the eastern US, officials warned residents to stay inside and limit or avoid outdoor activities again Thursday, extending “Code Red” air quality alerts in some places for a third-straight day, as forecasts showed winds continuing to push smoke-filled air south.

Federal officials paused some flights bound Wednesday for New York’s LaGuardia Airport and slowed planes to Newark and Philadelphia because the smoke was limiting visibility.

New York City’s air quality is categorized as purple, indicating hazardous conditions ( Image: China News Service via Getty Ima)

Major League Baseball’s Yankees and Phillies had their games postponed.

On Broadway, “Hamilton” and “Camelot” cancelled Wednesday performances and “Prima Facie” star Jodie Comer left a matinee after 10 minutes because of difficulty breathing.

The show restarted with an understudy, show publicists said.

Shakespeare in the Park at Central Park also cancelled its Thursday and Friday performances of “Hamlet,” saying ’tis not nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of wretched air’.

Skylines are being blotted out, and skies are turning orange ( Image: Zuma Press/PA Images)

In Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered schools to cancel outdoor recess, sports and field trips Thursday.

In suburban Philadelphia, officials set up an emergency shelter so people living outside can take refuge from the haze.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state was making a million N95 masks — the kind prevalent at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — available at state facilities, including 400,000 in New York City.

She also urged residents to stay put.

The smoky blanket is expected to persist until Thursday and possibly the weekend ( Image: Getty Images)

“You don’t need to go out and take a walk. You don’t need to push the baby in the stroller,” Ms Hochul said Wednesday night.

“This is not a safe time to do that.”

Officials said Wednesday, New York City has yet to see an uptick in 911 calls related to respiratory issues and cardiac arrests.

More than 400 blazes burning across Canada have left 20,000 people displaced.

The US has sent more than 600 firefighters and equipment to Canada. Other countries are also helping.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to President Joe Biden by phone on Wednesday.

Mr Trudeau’s office said he thanked Biden for his support and that both leaders “acknowledged the need to work together to address the devastating impacts of climate change.”

Canadian officials say this is shaping up to be the country’s worst wildfire season ever. It started early on drier-than-usual ground and accelerated quickly.

Fine particulate matter from the fires is reaching as far as North Carolina

Smoke from the blazes has been lapping into the US since last month but intensified with recent fires in Quebec, where about 100 were considered out of control Wednesday.

“I can taste the air,” Dr Ken Strumpf said in a Facebook post from Syracuse, New York, where the sky took on the colourful nickname of the local university: Orange

The situation has led to a dystopian-style detour, affecting sports, theater, and travel ( Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The smoke was so thick in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, that office towers just across the Ottawa River were barely visible.

In Toronto, Yili Ma said her hiking group cancelled a planned hike this week, and she was forgoing the restaurant patios that are a beloved summer tradition in a nation known for hard winters.

“I put my mask away for over a year, and now I’m putting on my mask since yesterday,” Ms Ma lamented.

All citizens are urged to stay indoors and only go outside with masks if necessary ( Image: Ron Adar / M10s /

Eastern Quebec got some rain Wednesday, but Montreal-based Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Legault said no significant rain is expected for days in the remote areas of central Quebec where the wildfires are more intense.

During the current wildfire season, Canada has witnessed the destruction of over 8.7 million acres due to fires.

Meanwhile, leaders from various fields, including politics, entertainment, and activism, have issued warnings about the current wildfire smoke covering the East Coast, emphasizing that it is a clear indication of the climate crisis.

New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to highlight the lack of preparedness for the climate crisis, pointing to the smoke and recent extreme temperatures in Puerto Rico.

She said: “It bears repeating how unprepared we are for the climate crisis. We must adapt our food systems, energy grids, infrastructure, healthcare, etc ASAP to prepare for what’s to come and catch up to what is already here.”

Bernie Sanders echoed these concerns, emphasizing that 98 million individuals on the East Coast are currently under air quality alerts due to Canadian fires and that New York City experienced the world’s worst air quality.