Asians living in the U.S. are drawing comparisons between the orange smog that has covered New York City and the air pollution in their home countries.
What’s going on: New York and many parts of the East Coast have been breathing in smog for days now. The smoke originates from wildfires in Canada, which reportedly began in late April. On Wednesday afternoon, New York City’s PM2.5 levels peaked at 303.3 micrograms per cubic meter. The Big Apple also temporarily overtook New Delhi as the world’s most polluted city on Tuesday, according to Swiss air quality tracker IQAir.
What Asians are saying: The smoke has blanketed the East Coast in a characteristic orange haze, a sight familiar to residents of New Delhi and Beijing who have been struggling with air pollution for years. In response to the news of New York having the world’s worst air quality on Tuesday, one Twitter user wrote, “Feels dangerously like home.” “Pachinko” author Min Jin Lee, who lives in Harlem, also wrote in an Instagram post that people from China and India and those who have lived there have told her that such air quality is “not surprising” for them. “Everyone needs clean air,” she added.
The air quality feels incredibly familiar to those who are from/live in cities globally where unsafe levels are a daily norm. I can't remember a time I've come back from #India and the region without a respiratory/asthma flare-up and a sore throat. #AirQualityAlert
More from NextShark: Monk fight leads to death in Thailand
— Anusha Mookherjee (@anushamookherje) June 7, 2023
Headlines everywhere, #NewYork is the most polluted city in the world. AQI breaches 300+
More from NextShark: NY Congresswoman Grace Meng secures $30 million to help stop Asian hate
All too familiar. Heart and lungs go out to New Yorkers. As a former Delhiite, and a clean air campaigner in 2016, I can vouch for the damage that dangerous levels of toxic air can do (2/n)
— ruhie (@ruhie) June 8, 2023
The surreal air quality in New York so resembles countless days in Beijing, occasionally making me doubt if I'm actually in Beijing. So, for the first time in four years, I dreamt of Beijing:
— Menghang Wu (伍梦航) (@phdinsleeping) June 8, 2023
New York friends: worried about the air
China friends: nostalgically remembering the IPA that only went on sale if the AQI was above 200 pic.twitter.com/3fWFYZWIgj
— Cooper Lund (@cooperlund) June 7, 2023
Wow! Who would’ve thought that the air quality of New York City (334 Aqi) would surpass the air quality of New Delhi, India (218 AQI)? Pheww…it surely feels like an average day in Delhi in NY. pic.twitter.com/BXtVXGs9Hj
— Anita Rao ☄️Wholistic Express (@Wholistically) June 7, 2023
The bigger picture: Asian regions are suffering the most deaths from air pollution, according to German data platform Statista. In 2019, nearly 2.5 million in East Asia and the Pacific died due to the problem. A majority of the deaths reportedly occurred in China and India. By comparison, there were 64,600 deaths in North America in the same year.
The latest status: New York City found some relief Friday, as its AQI (air quality index) dropped to 46 (categorized as “good”) from yesterday’s 72 (“moderate”). However, a health advisory reportedly remains in effect until midnight.