The quality of the air in New York City ranks among the worst of all cities worldwide, as smoke from Canadian wildfires continue to create a thick haze.
By Anash.org reporter
Authorities are urging New York City residents to stay indoors as smoke from Canadian wildfires continues to create a thick haze across the city.
New York City’s air was more polluted than any other major world city Wednesday as thick smoke from wildfires burning hundreds of miles away in Canada was set to continue to choke much of the Northeast through the weekend.
According to AirNow.gov, the air quality index in NYC on Wednesday afternoon was 324, a level the site describes as ‘hazardous’.
“Unhealthy” air and smoky conditions are expected to linger over the five boroughs until Sunday, as Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday urged New Yorkers with heart or breathing issues to “limit … outdoor activities to the absolute necessities.”
Having this poor of air can be “hazardous to anyone,” the National Weather Service has warned. Essentially all of New York State has been placed under health advisories.
Early Wednesday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Dr. James McDonald issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for the Long Island, New York City Metro, Lower Hudson Valley, Upper Hudson Valley, Eastern Lake Ontario, Central New York and Western New York regions.
DEC and DOH issue Air Quality Health Advisories when DEC meteorologists predict levels of pollution, either ozone or fine particulate matter are expected to exceed an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 100. The AQI was created as an easy way to correlate levels of different pollutants to one scale, with a higher AQI value indicating a greater health concern.
Exposure can cause short-term health effects such as irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Exposure to elevated levels of fine particulate matter can also worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. People with heart or breathing problems, and children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to PM 2.5.
When outdoor levels are elevated, going indoors may reduce exposure. If there are significant indoor sources of PM 2.5 (tobacco, candle or incense smoke, or fumes from cooking) levels inside may not be lower than outside. Some ways to reduce exposure are to minimize outdoor and indoor sources and avoid strenuous activities in areas where fine particle concentrations are high.
The Department of Environmental Conservation urged New Yorkers to take the energy saving and pollution-reducing steps, including using mass transit instead of driving, turn off all lights and electrical appliances in unoccupied areas; using fans to circulate air. If air conditioning is necessary, set thermostats at 78 degrees; close the blinds and shades to limit heat build-up and to preserve cooled air; limit use of household appliances. If necessary, run the appliances at off-peak (after 7 p.m.) hours. These would include dishwashers, dryers, pool pumps and water heaters; set refrigerators and freezers at more efficient temperatures; reduce or eliminate outdoor burning and attempt to minimize indoor sources of PM 2.5 such as smoking.
The state Department of Health on Wednesday also shared suggestions, saying that the use of a purifier or air conditioner is advised.
Employers are encouraged to have workers work indoors or to assign employees to work from home, the department said.
The use of masks is encouraged when traveling outdoors, the department said.