Poor Air Quality Is Routine in Many Parts of the World
The hazy plume from the Canadian wildfires has given people in the northeastern United States a sense of what it is like in parts of the world where a struggle with the quality of their air is more routine.
On Wednesday, New York City briefly became one of the cities with the worst air on the planet, eclipsing some of the poorest nations that have suffered from pollution for decades. Air pollution was responsible for 6.67 million deaths worldwide in 2019, mostly in North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia.
Air pollution mainly comes from burning things: coal in power plants, gasoline in cars, chemicals in factories, or wood and whatever else ignites in wildfires. The particles are too small for the eye to see, but in high concentrations they cast a haze in the sky.