Since Tuesday June 13, the Azores islands have been affected by pollutants from forest fires in Canada, but these do not pose a health threat.
Since Tuesday June 13, the autonomous region of the Azores has been affected by gases and particles emitted by forest fires in Canada. According to a note from the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA), concentrations of these pollutants pose no threat to human health.
Affected by forest fires since March, which have burned 4.6 million hectares across the country, Canada counted 458 active fires as of yesterday, with thousands of firefighters from several countries battling the flames. Among them, a 140-strong joint force of firefighters from Portugal was dispatched yesterday to the province of Quebec.
According to the IPMA, “the forest fires that have been ravaging Canada for weeks have emitted significant quantities of gases and particles into the atmosphere, which are transported and dispersed by the winds”.
Nomedamente, a cyclonic circulation, associated with a low-pressure system centered northwest of the Azores, will have favored the large-scale transport of these pollutants, mainly carbon monoxide, along the North Atlantic, having reached the Autonomous Region of the Azores on Tuesday June 13. “However, the concentrations of these pollutants are below the established legal limits and are therefore not expected to pose a threat to human health”, adds IPMA.
Still according to the IPMA press release, the pollutants will continue to be transported by cyclonic circulation, “and should reach the territory of the Iberian Peninsula from June 18, but in lower concentrations than in the Azores”.
On June 8, the Norwegian Institute for Environmental and Climate Research had already confirmed the presence of particles from the Canadian fires in air samples taken on June 7 at the Birkenes observatory in southern Norway.
The Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere says it will continue to monitor the situation and issue updates “if warranted”.