Smoke from Canadian wildfires reaches US, Minnesota under air quality alert

Minnesota’s air quality alert issued on Sunday will remain active on Monday.

With more than 100 active wildfires in Canada, smoke from wildfires has crossed the border into the United States, prompting Minnesota officials on Sunday to issue the state’s first air quality alert of 2024.

Several of the Canadian wildfires have been labeled “out of control,” according to officials, who placed 40 of the 140 active fires in this category.

The majority of active wildfires, 91 to be exact, are in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.

In the United States, smoke from wildfires has reached states from Montana to Wisconsin, but it is especially intense in Minnesota on Sunday.

Minnesota’s air quality alert was issued Sunday and will remain in effect through Monday.

The air quality index (AQI) for much of northern Minnesota today has been between 150 and 200, which is “unhealthy,” and has at times surpassed the 200 AQI mark, making it a “very unhealthy” area.

Bemidji, a city in northern Minnesota, recorded an AQI of 212 on Sunday, where residents could smell smoke in the air at these levels and placed the city among the places with the worst air quality in the world.

Overnight, Minneapolis, Minnesota, will have medium to heavy levels of smoke reaching the surface, and officials are warning residents, especially those with allergies, to make sure their windows are closed starting Sunday night. night until Monday morning.

By dawn Monday, smoke from wildfires in the United States will likely be much weaker, with average levels extending from Wisconsin to southern Minnesota.

By Monday night, Omaha, Nebraska, is projected to experience foggier skies due to the flow of smoke from wildfires.

The effects of wildfire smoke are a growing concern in the United States and are expected to get worse, according to a study published in February.

By mid-century, the effects of wildfire smoke could pose alarming health risks to 125 million Americans, according to the First Street Foundation.

In June 2023, smoke from Canadian wildfires covered parts of the Northeast and Midwest in a thick orange haze.

Eighteen states, from Montana to New York and as far south as Georgia, were under air quality alerts, according to AirNow at the time. New York City topped the list of the world’s worst air quality rankings by an overwhelming majority, according to IQ Air.

Wildfire smoke poses alarming health risks to everyone, but especially to people with existing health problems. According to the EPA, wildfire smoke is associated with strokes, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, lung cancer, and premature death.