Canada Wildfires Turn Season Into Summer of Smoke

Jul 19, 2023

Air Quality Index

In the next few weeks, we might have to cancel our backyard barbecues, put off marathon training, and even start wearing masks again. By the time the smoky summer of 2023 ends, school will probably be in full swing.

That's all because the air quality across North America is getting worse again. The main cause is the unstoppable wildfires happening in Canada this summer.

These wildfires have caused air quality warnings in 18 states from New York to Georgia and Montana. This information comes from AirNow, a group that keeps track of air pollution. The air quality might get better or worse at times. This depends on the direction of the wind and how much it rains. But the problem probably won't stop until the wildfire season in the north ends in October.

2023 is the worst wildfire season Canada has ever seen. Thousands of firefighters are fighting over 900 active wildfires. Many are volunteers from other countries. Almost two-thirds of these fires are out of control. 

The fires have burned more than 26 million acres in Canada. That's an area larger than the state of Kentucky. That breaks the 1995 record of 17.5 million acres burned for the whole season that year. 

Scientists say that climate change isn't the direct cause. But it is making the problem worse. 

Edward Struzik is a fellow at the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental policy in Ontario. He told CBS News that most fires in the northern Canadian forest are started by lightning. “A 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature (leads) to about 12% more lightning." So, the hotter it gets due to climate change, the more chances there are for fires to start. 

Reflect: What are some ways people can help prevent forest fires? 

Based on the information in the infographic, an air quality index of _______ is considered very unhealthy and means the risk of health effects is increased for everyone.
a. 101-150
b 151-200
c. 201-300
d. 301+
For more formative assessments, visit to start a free trial.

News brought to you by The Juice

Start a free trial today