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Maps: Wildfire smoke has covered the U.S. for more than a month

It’s not just New York City and Washington, D.C.; wildfire smoke has touched both coasts since early May. 
June 6, 2023.
Smoke from wildfires in Canada drifts south into the U.S. on Tuesday.NOAA

While tens of millions of people on the East Coast experienced their first bout with poor air quality Tuesday, due to wildfires burning in Canada, data shows that much of the United States has been dealing with the smoke of a string of northern fires since early May.

Smoke from Canada’s wildfires blew into the United States this week, bringing hazy skies and unhealthy air stretching from New Hampshire to South Carolina. But smoke data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that hazy air crossed most of the  country in the past five weeks, when the Canada fires started in the west.

By mid-May, almost the entire northern United States was covered in smoke, from Oregon to eastern New York, NOAA data shows.

The smoke plume now blanketing  the East Coast comes from a spate of wildfires in Quebec and Nova Scotia, which started burning at the end of May.

This smoke has sent air quality levels plummeting in the U.S. and created dramatic images  of hazy East Coast cities. More than 98 million people in 18 states are under air quality alerts as of Tuesday. Pollution from wildfires can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, with long-term exposure being associated with several chronic health conditions.