West Coast cities face the world’s worst air quality as wildfires rage

By September 30, 2020 No Comments

Four cities have knocked every city in China out of the top 10 for worst air quality

Four west coast cities in the U.S. currently rank in the top 10 for worst air quality in the world, as wildfires rage up and down the western seaboard, cloaking the entire region in smoke.

Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, hold the No 1 and No 2 spots, while San Francisco and Los Angeles sit at four and six. Collectively, with the smoke from the wildfires, these four cities have knocked every city in China out of the top 10 for worst air quality.

With wildfires burning more than 3.3m acres in California, 1m acres in Oregon and more than 620,000 acres in Washington state, smoke from these blazes has nearly reached Hawaii to the west and Michigan to the east.

Residents in Oregon and Washington are now experiencing what their California counterparts have gone through since mid-August. A heavy haze rests upon the Pacific north-west as wildfires leveled entire neighborhoods last week, killing at least 10 in Oregon. In Clackamas and Marion counties, large blazes remained completely uncontained.

Scientists are already seeing the health effects of wildfire smoke exposure on residents, with Stanford University recording hospital admissions for asthma rise by 10% and cerebrovascular incidents such as strokes jump by 23% in the days following the August lightning siege in California.

Further complicating the health effects of the smoky air quality is a pandemic centered on a virus that affects the lungs. Researchers have expressed concerns that the unhealthy air quality will only intensify the risks of the Covid-19 pandemic, in terms of physical and mental health.

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