Millions face relentless “summer of smoke” that isn’t ending anytime soon

In Detroit, where air pollution was worse than any other city in the world Thursday, a basement coffee shop became a bunker from the smoke. One Washington summer camp forbade children from an outdoor pool and kept them inside.

On a third-straight day of heavy haze in Chicago, an improvement in air quality meant it was merely “unhealthy” to venture outside, rather than “very unhealthy.”

According to MSN, The latest disruptions made it all the more clear: Record-setting, out-of-control Canadian wildfires will not be put out any time soon, meaning more Americans than ever face continuing threats of dangerously poor air quality this summer.

Put differently: The United States could be in for a summer of smoke. “The number of people that are exposed is unprecedented in the modern era,” said Michael Wara, an energy and climate policy expert at Stanford University.

Air quality alerts covered all or parts of 23 U.S. states Thursday, from Colorado to Vermont, Wisconsin to Georgia. And while residents of Western states have grown accustomed to adjusting their lives to wildfire smoke, Easterners are still adapting to the reality that sooty skies can be a repeated hazard.

As climate change increases the frequency and intensity of wildfires worldwide, unrelenting spring heat and dry weather have fueled Canada’s worst fire season ever observed. That means northerly summer breezes that would normally bring a break from heat waves will carry noxious smoke across the northern U.S. border as long as the fires continue to burn.

“The air quality is worse than Beijing,” said Liz Alford, 36, a federal worker who found refuge in Coffee Down Under, a basement coffee shop in downtown Detroit. “On my way in, I couldn’t even see the cell towers.”

Aboveground, the air was dark and thick, and many older residents wore N95 masks. In Cadillac Square, the giant touch screens that usually help tourists find fun events instead displayed air warnings and notices that outdoor movies, children’s events and yoga classes might be canceled.

Code Red air quality spread across the D.C. area Thursday for the second time this month. Unlike an intrusion of wildfire smoke that hit in early June, which occurred toward the end of the school year, the latest episode coincides with summer camps now underway.

“It’s such a challenge because so much of camp is about the outdoors and getting kids outside,” said Drew Mackay, director of the summer program at Beauvoir, an elementary school at Washington National Cathedral. Mackay said that on Code Red days, campers are limited to no more than 10 minutes outside at a time and outdoor swimming is canceled.

“This seems new and I’m afraid it might become the new normal,” Mackay said.

Washington’s air quality was among the worst for major cities around the world Thursday, along with Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and New York. The air was worse in Detroit and Washington than in Lahore, Pakistan; Dubai; and Shenyang, China, according to IQAir.

North American cities top global pollution rankings

The Tribulation is commencing..

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