© 2023 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Legislators warn low air quality could impact the Northeast this summer

Wildfire haze.
Max Schulte
Wildfire haze.

Air quality across the region has improved — for now.

But the Canadian government predicts the risk for wildfires in Canada will remain high all summer.

U.S. federal legislators warn the fires will likely impact Connecticut and New York, especially as climate change worsens.

The first step is containing the current fires in Canada, according to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Schumer called on the U.S. Forest Service to double the American personnel deploying to Canada, up from 300 to 600.

“Last week, New Yorkers stepped outside feeling like they were living in a chimney. To try and prevent a summer of smoke, we need to take action,” Schumer said. “The best way to ensure New York and other parts of the U.S. do not suffer another wave of wildfire air pollution from these fires is to contain them as soon as possible…Climate change has taken these once-in-a-hundred-years events and turned them into yearly occurrences.”

U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said the federal and state governments also need to prepare for future fires. She wants Congress to pass stricter air quality regulations.

“These climate disasters are becoming more common and severe, as the crisis makes weather conditions like heat and drought, and makes wildfires more likely,” DeLauro said.

Connecticut Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani said that could mean staying in this summer, especially vulnerable kids.

“What we saw, related to this particular event, is that children seemed to be visiting the emergency department for asthma type symptoms more in these three to four days,” Juthani said. “So we can see the direct effects of this type of event in our community.”

Juthani suggests staying in during poor air quality days is the best form of protection. For people who have to go outside, a KN-95 face mask can filter out some of the bad air particles.

Molly is a reporter covering Fairfield County. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.