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    Air Quality Alert: Schools across Tri-State cancel outdoor activities due to smoke


    NEW YORK (WABC) — Smoke from hundreds of wildfires burning in Canada has traveled into the Tri-State area, impacting local schools.

    Several school districts have sent announcements that they will not be taking students outdoors Wednesday.

    The Clifton, Verona, and East Orange school districts have cancelled recess and outdoor activities. The Wayne school district has issued a minimal schedule for all students and has cancelled after-school activities, as well.

    All Woodbridge Township residents are urged to limit outdoor activities, but officials say vulnerable groups, like school-aged children, should remain indoors or wear a mask if going outdoors. The Woodbridge Township School District has restricted outdoor extracurricular activities for the day.

    Over in Hoboken, the public school district has canceled field trips, outdoor recess, field days, and outdoor physical education.

    All New York City public schools have also cancelled all outdoor activities.

    Public schools in Huntington issued all physical education classes and activities take place inside Wednesday.

    Governor Kathy Hochul issued the following statement about children and their safety outdoors in these conditions.

    “Over the past several days, my team and I have been closely monitoring air quality and providing updates to New Yorkers as haze and smoke from Canadian wildfires continue to spread throughout the state. The State Department of Environmental Conservation and State Department of Health have issued air quality warnings since Monday, and according to the most recent forecast, much of the state outside of the North Country is expected to be in an air quality index of unhealthy to very unhealthy today. Additionally, my administration has been in contact with the cities of Syracuse, Rochester and New York. I support their decisions and the decisions of other districts to suspend outdoor school activities and strongly urge those who have not yet done so to follow suit.”

    Exposure to elevated fine particle pollution levels can affect the lungs and heart.

    Dr. Mangala Narasimhan, SVP of Critical Care Services at Northwell says that smoke in the air “affects lots of different parts of your lungs. It causes you irritation, it causes people to cough, it causes difficulty breathing because the air is so heavy.”

    The air quality alerts caution “sensitive groups,” a big category that includes children, older adults, and people with lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

    Kids, who often are encouraged to go out and play, “are more susceptible to smoke for a number of reasons,” said Laura Kate Bender, the lung association’s National Assistant Vice President, healthy air. “Their lungs are still developing, they breathe in more air per unit of body weight.”

    A toll-free air quality hotline has been established so New York residents can stay informed on the air quality situation. The toll-free number is 1-800-535-1345.

    (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

    ALSO READ: Latest on Air Quality Alert in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut

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