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10 Cities with the Worst Air Quality in the World Right Now

Wildfires in Canada have drastically changed the air quality in several northeastern cities.

Wildfires, more than 400 of them, are running rampant in Canada, and winds are bringing smoke from them to the Northeast region of the United States.

Right now, major cities like New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia have very little visibility, unhealthy air, and burnt orange skies, due to the smoke. And local government agencies are advising residents to work from home if they can, keep pets inside as much as possible, and to wear N95 masks while outdoors. While Manhattan isn't known for being the greenest place on earth, it certainly was never considered the city with the worst air quality… until now.

According to the World Air Quality Index (AQI), New York City is currently the city with the worst air quality in the world. On Thursday morning, ABC 7 NY reported that all New York City public schools will be closed Thursday and Friday and that state government officials are calling for all residents to stay indoors until conditions improve, which could be as early as the weekend. Sporting events and select Broadway shows were postponed, while flights in and out of New York are being delayed and canceled by the minute.

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In a press conference, New York City mayor Eric Adams dubbed the air quality alert an "unprecedented event." Adams revealed that on Wednesday, June 7, at 5:00 p.m., the AQI in Manhattan reached 484 (the highest number on the scale is 500).

Fortunately, the city has had some relief and its AQI score is now down to 177. But as of this writing, New York City is still considered the city with the worst air quality in the world right now.

Comparably, Chongqing, the largest municipality in Southwest China, is ranked in tenth place with an AQI score of 107. Per the AQI, a score between 101 and 150 means that the air is "unhealthy for sensitive groups." This could refer to the immunocompromised, elderly, those with asthma, and so on.

Delhi, India is currently in ninth place with an AQI score of 113. Krasnoyarsk, Russia has a 117 score and is in eighth, while Jakarta, Indonesia is in seventh with a score of 123.

Interestedly enough, Toronto, which is eight hours away from the massive wildfire outbreak, only has an AQI score of 128. The metropolis currently has better air and less pollution than the Tri-State area.

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In fifth and fourth place is Lahore, Pakistan (137 AQI) and Hanoi, Vietnam (147 AQI), respectively. The third worst city is Tel Aviv-Yafo in Israel. As of now, the area is exposed to "unhealthy" air quality with a 156 score. Runner up to New York City is Dhaka, Bangladesh with an AQI score of 158.

As the winds continue to blow smoke out of the area, New York City's AQI level will change and hopefully drop, while polluted air could settle on neighboring cities to the south.

New Yorkers aren't accustomed to this kind of air quality. According to historical AQI data from 2017 to 2022, Manhattan didn't even rank in the top 50 U.S. cities with the worst air quality in the last five years. So this isn't usual.

Until the fires are under control and conditions improve, keep windows closed and limit outdoor exposure, and stay safe!

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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