“I can’t breathe in this air.”
Jodie Comer, star of Killing Eve, had to stop just three minutes into her one-woman show, Prima Facie, last night. The actress suffered breathing difficulties and had to be helped off the stage.
This is how bad the air quality in New York is right as the city struggles through its second day of smoke-filled air. The haze has been swept down from the north, where more than 400 wildfires in Canada are blazing virtually out of control.
On Wednesday, New York had the worst air quality of anywhere in the world, reaching 342 on the Air Quality Index, a level considered “hazardous” for all residents.
“We recommend all New Yorkers limit outdoor activity to the greatest extent possible,” New York Mayor Eric Adams has said.
“Those with pre-existing respiratory problems, like heart or breathing problems, as well as children and older adults, may be especially sensitive and should stay indoors at this time.”
— Storm Team 4 NY (@StormTeam4NY) June 7, 2023
Of course, theatregoers being unable to enjoy a play is the least of New Yorks’ concerns right now. Schools have been cancelled, official warnings to stay inside declared, and zoos have had to bring their animals indoors as more than 3.8 million hectares of Canadian forest goes up in smoke.
— NewYorkCityKopp (@KellyrKopp) June 7, 2023
Scientists are still trying to work out the full impact of the Black Summer Fires on the health of Sydneysiders and others who were subjected to months of dense bushfire smoke.
Previous studies have shown a 5% rise in mortality in Australian regions where bushfire smoke engulfed a population. Bushfire smoke is a lot like cigarette smoke in that it is particularly dangerous for people who have respiratory issues, asthma, or allergies.
what the view normally looks like from my 35th floor midtown manhattan balcony vs what it looks like now that nyc is smothered in wildfire smoke from 400+ miles away pic.twitter.com/77MNioFrhI
— Johanna Li (@johannacli) June 7, 2023
Much of the smoke is coming from Quebec, where 150 are currently burning. 150,000 Canadian residents are expected to be evacuated in what officials have said is the worst fire season on record in the province.
This smoke in NYC is no joke. This is the view from our office. It smells like fire outside and visibility is quite diminished. The glowing dot is the Times Square Ball that drops on New Year’s Eve. Its so strange. #NYC pic.twitter.com/pQ8xJXgggt
— Jim Lokey (@jimlokey) June 7, 2023
Climate change is clearly playing a role in exacerbating the fires in Canada this season — already thought to be 12 times larger than the average. With the world having already warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius, drier conditions and more extreme weather events like this one are increasingly becoming the norm.