Portland Has World’s Worst Air and U.S. Declares an Emergency

The U.S. has declared a public health emergency in Oregon, citing poor air quality after wildfires charred more than a million acres in the state, choking Portland with the worst air in the world.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the notice Wednesday, three weeks after declaring a similar emergency in California, which is experiencing the worst fires in state history.

Wildfires in the U.S. West have left the region smothered in smoke that’s blotted out the sun and forced residents to remain indoors to avoid dangerous air. Air quality in Portland was ranked as the world’s worst on Wednesday, followed by Vancouver, Delhi, India, and then Seattle, according to IQAir.com. The smoke is emitting record amounts of carbon dioxide and particulate matter and has spanned the U.S., reaching the East Coast on Monday.

Relief, however, is in sight. In the days ahead, wind is expected to clear much of the smoke from the Pacific Northwest. Rain is also forecast for the region, which will help firefighters contain blazes. Officials are expecting to see a “lot of improvement” from tomorrow night into Friday, said Harry Esteve, a spokesman for Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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