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US east coast cities warned to draft air quality plans similar to those in the west

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US cities like New York may need the sort of wildfire smoke hazard plans that cities in California and elsewhere have adopted, experts have warned, in an era of boundless pollution driven by the climate crisis that is impervious to decades-old clean air laws.

A week after a pall of wildfire smoke turned New York City’s skies into a shade of apocalyptic orange, leaders in the US government and east coast states are wrestling with how to keep residents safe from the significant health risks.

In California and elsewhere, there are plans offering advisories to wear masks above certain levels of pollution, trigger interventions to help vulnerable people such as the elderly, and issue warnings to the public to stay indoors on smoky days.

The incomprehension over the worst ever day for toxic wildfire smoke in recent US history, which obliterated safe clean air thresholds and forced people to don masks outdoors, was summed up by Eric Adams, New York’s mayor, who admitted that the city was not primed for the sort of event more usually seen in California.

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