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    New York air quality: ‘Moderate’ air quality level means hazy conditions caused by Canadian wildfires

    NEW YORK (WABC) — Drifting smoke from the ongoing wildfires across Canada is creating curtains of haze and raising air quality concerns for the New York area.

    Meteorologist Sam Champion says a hazy Thursday could mean our moderate air quality level rises.

    Once the Air Quality Index shows a number between 100 and 150, the air becomes unhealthy for sensitive groups.

    An Air Quality Alert was issued for all of New York on Wednesday.

    New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection also issued an alert for Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Essex, and Union counties until midnight Thursday night.

    Air in Western New York, Central New York, and the Eastern Lake Ontario regions is forecast to be ‘Unhealthy’ for all New Yorkers. The forecast for the remainder of the state, including New York City and Long Island, is ‘Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.’

    Check the air quality in your neighborhood HERE.

    “With smoke from the Canadian wildfires once again impacting air quality throughout our state this week, we’re urging New Yorkers to remain vigilant,” Governor Hochul said. “We’re activating emergency cell phone alerts to ensure New Yorkers have the latest information and are continuing to coordinate with local counties to monitor conditions and distribute masks. I encourage all New Yorkers to stay informed about the latest updates and take the necessary precautions to protect yourselves and your loved ones.”

    Significant near-surface smoke impacts are not currently forecast to reach Eastern New York, including New York City and Long Island, until late afternoon. However, conditions are likely to deteriorate quickly once the smoke moves in.

    Updated air quality information and alerts are available from the state’s website.

    In New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Port Authority, and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation are distributing masks to commuters at major transit hubs and state parks. Additional masks are being made available to counties outside of New York City at State-run stockpiles for further distribution to the public.

    Masks are available at the following locations:

  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Penn Station
  • Fulton Center
  • Jamaica Station
  • Main Concourse of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, South Wing
  • Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
  • Grand Concourse, Bronx
  • Shirley Chisholm State Park
  • Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve
  • Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park
  • Roberto Clemente State Park
  • Transit authorities across the state are utilizing public address systems, bus headway signs, social media and other electronic signage to provide air-quality related safety information directly to customers, including:

  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority
  • NassauTRANSIT
  • Westchester County Bee-Line
  • Broome County Transit
  • Capital District Transportation Authority
  • Central New York Regional Transportation Authority
  • Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority
  • Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
  • The wildfire smoke is also causing problems in the Midwest.

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s site showed parts of Illinois, lower Michigan and southern Wisconsin had the worst air quality in the U.S. on Tuesday afternoon, and Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee had air quality categorized as “very unhealthy.”

    In Minnesota, a record 23rd air quality alert was issued Tuesday through late Wednesday night across much of the state, as smoky skies obscure the skylines of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy issued an air quality alert for the entire state. Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources also issued an air quality advisory for the state.

    In Chicago, officials urged young people, older adults and residents with health issues to spend more time indoors.

    On Thursday as the system pushes towards the ocean, some of the near-surface smoke is expected to get into western New York.

    The air quality will begin to degrade and may reach levels that will be unhealthy for sensitive groups.

    The last time the air quality was impacted by wildfire smoke, Mount Sinai pulmonologist Dr. Barbara Mann got extra calls and visits.

    “The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the actual objective number of the air quality index,” Mann said. “For above 150 of an air quality index, really everybody should stay home as much as possible. If you have to go out to do errands, that’s ok, but I wouldn’t do outdoor activities.”

    Dr. Mann says wearing a mask is a good idea in the subway, where air quality is going to be worse than whatever is outside.

    “Just being outside you may feel some chest tightness or sore throat or eye tearing,” she said. “Those are not as big a concern, they’re uncomfortable and you want to avoid it, but it’s really the patients that have underlying conditions that we worry about.”

    The governor is asking summer camps to limit outdoor activity for kids as the numbers rise, and for employers to limit work time outdoors for employees and provide masks.

    One difference this time is that weather conditions were bone dry back on June 7. Now, it’s hot and muggy.

    “It’s sort of a double whammy that way because you’re getting the higher ozone layers from the heat and humidity,” Mann said. “You’re also getting the small particles from the smoke. So yes, when it’s hot and humid and you have the wildfire smoke, it’s extra concerning, so you want to be extra cautious on those days.”

    Those particles can be problematic when they get into your bloodstream. A KN95 or N95 mask can help keep them out of your lungs and if you leave home without one, the governor says the MTA will make N95s available at transit hubs like Grand Central and Penn Station in the next couple of days.

    Air Quality Tracker | ABC7 Air Quality Tracker


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