New York’s orange haze reminds Asians in the US of home


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.

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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.