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15 Eye-Watering Numbers from the East Coast Smoke Crisis

Let’s put this into context.

New York City.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The East Coast just inhaled the worst air pollution in a generation — and maybe since well before.

Here are some astonishing numbers that put the haze that blanketed the eastern United States into context:

128,000,000: The rough number of Americans who had an air quality alert on Wednesday night.

465: New York City’s record-setting AQI on Wednesday, June 7, by The New York Times measure.

377: The average AQI in New York on Wednesday.

39: New York’s average AQI on June 7 of last year.

320: The average AQI of New Delhi, India, in November 2022 — one of the city’s best Novembers in years.

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  • 314: D.C.’s AQI on Thursday morning.

    438: The AQI in Syracuse at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

    447: Philadelphia’s AQI on Wednesday night.

    1,920: The number of public schools between D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City that canceled all outdoor activities on Wednesday and Thursday.

    4: The number of professional sports games that have been canceled due to air pollution.

    6 (or 7): How many cigarettes that spending 24 hours outside in New York City mid-week is equivalent to, depending on the source.

    27.5: The micrograms of pollutant per one cubic meter of air across the United States on Wednesday, making it the worst wildfire pollution day in American history.

    9,353,780: The number of Canadian acres that have burned this year due to wildfires.

    1,715: The total number of delays from Wednesday through 3 p.m. Thursday at LaGuardia, Newark, and Philadelphia airports (according to FlightAware).

    17% to 26%: The portion of the Black-white earnings gap attributable to disparities in air pollution exposure.

    Editor’s note: This article was updated after New York City revised its AQI record.

    Read more about the wildfire smoke:

    Your Plants Are Going to Be Okay.

    Why Are the Canadian Wildfires So Bad This Year?

    How to Stay Safe from Wildfire Smoke Indoors

    Wildfire Smoke Is a Wheezy Throwback for New York City

    Wednesday Was the Worst Day for Wildfire Pollution in U.S. History


    Will Kubzansky

    Will is an intern at Heatmap from Washington, D.C. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Brown Daily Herald. Previously, he interned at the Wisconsin State Journal and National Journal. Read More

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    A Hilariously Sad Chart of COP28 Climate Pledges

    See if you can identify the biggest scrooge here.

    A woman in Tuvalu.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Early on Thursday, the first day of the UN Climate Conference in Dubai, world leaders secured an agreement for a fund that will help vulnerable nations deal with the impacts of climate change. My colleague Charu has written about the fund in more detail, but I was curious about one thing: How do these pledges compare to each country’s GDP? The answer is hilariously stark — I originally tried making a chart of these pledges as a fraction of GDP, but they simply didn’t show up on the axes.

    Chart of pledges vs GDP.

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