Tip Sheets

‘Worst case scenario’ – Canadian wildfires could impact NY all summer

Media Contact

Kaitlyn Serrao

Wildfire smoke from Canadian wildfires led to air quality alerts for the second time in June across much of New York.

Max Zhang

Professor of engineering and faculty director at the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability

Max Zhang is a professor of engineering at Cornell University with a focus on air pollution and interactions between energy and the environment. He says we’ve seen wildfire smoke pollution in New York before, but the exposure this June could point to future concerns.

Zhang says:

“It is worth noting that the air quality in New York State has been affected by Canadian wildfires historically. For example, there were well-documented air pollution episodes driven by wildfires in May 2010 (Quebec wildfires), May 2016 (wildfires from Southwestern Canada), August 2018 (wildfires from British Columbia and Pacific Northwest), and July 2021 (wildfires from southern Canada).

“However, what we have seen in June 2023 is unprecedented in terms of the magnitudes of the fires and the number of people being affected. There is a worst-case scenario in the future that the air quality in New York State would be affected by Canadian wildfires throughout the summer season.”

Zhang also provided an analysis of the air quality impact on June 28, which you can find here.

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