Getting Answers: Canadian wildfires impacting local air quality

You could see and even almost taste the smoke in the air from the Canadian wildfires on Tuesday.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 2:57 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 6, 2023 at 5:24 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - You could see and even almost taste the smoke in the air from the Canadian wildfires on Tuesday. Smoke from over 150 fires could be seen in the air over Deerfield this morning and just a little farther south in Springfield and West Springfield, even more haze from the smoke can be seen.

“We’re seeing this ground-level smoke and we’re seeing the reduced air quality through a good portion of the northeast today. I think we’re going to see the smoke at its most concentrated today into this evening,” said Western Mass News First Alert Meteorologist Don Maher.

Rick Peltier, professor of environmental health sciences at UMass Amherst, told Western Mass News that this smoke in our air creates potential health hazards, like irritated eyes and lungs and causes inflammation and coughing.

LATEST FORECAST: Smoky skies, poor air quality; a few showers/storms possible

“We breathe 20,000 breaths a day and every time we take a breath in, those particles from that wood smoke get into your lungs and they can cause some damage and irritate our lungs. There are all kinds of health outcomes that are not things we are looking for,” Peltier explained.

Peltier added that while the U.S. has made strides in cutting down on emissions to improve overall air quality, wildfires are still a growing concern.

“We still have this pernicious problem that wildfires can impact us, even if they are far away from us. We’re seeing that today. It’s something that is a mixed bag. We have seen some improvements by changing emissions standards and air quality in our cities and towns and the way we produce power. We are also more susceptible to these external forces that impact us,” Peltier added.