More acrid smoke from the Canadian wildfires arrived in New York City on Thursday, prompting a new round of air quality alerts particularly for those most vulnerable to the particulate-filled haze.
New York’s air quality has deteriorated all day on Thursday, as anticipated, as the wildfire smoke which hung over the Midwest all week moves its way eastward. After starting out the day with a moderate air quality index (AQI) of about 90, that number ticked upward to 105 as of 2 p.m. — and is expected to climb into the 150s. Those numbers are considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Airnow.gov tracking system.
Still, the pollution is not predicted to hit the noxious levels that the city experienced on June 7 — when wildfire smoke blanketed the Big Apple in an unforgettable, apocalyptic orange haze, and the AQI soared into the upper 400s range, considered extremely unhealthy for anyone. At one point that day, New York City had the most polluted air of any city on the planet.
Regardless of the severity, Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams advised New Yorkers to take precautions against the smoke in the air. The smoke could be harmful for children, seniors and those with heart or lung conditions; people in these vulnerable groups are advised to limit their outdoor activity and wear N95 masks while out in the open.
It might seem inconvenient, the governor told New Yorkers, but they should get used to the latest “new normal” — as forecasts indicate the smoke will linger across parts of the state through at least Friday.
“You’re going to start feeling the effects of what we’re talking about right now, if not already,” Hochul said. “And again, much of this weather is going to be lingering across the state all the way through tomorrow. So, we’ll be expecting to have another air quality alert tomorrow.”
To keep New Yorkers informed, Hochul noted, the state’s activated a text alert system in which cellphone users will be notified if the AQI in their area exceeds 200. Transit agencies across the state, including the MTA, will make public service announcements within their systems to keep commuters apprised of smoke levels.
Hundreds of thousands of masks are also being distributed across New York state, Hochul noted. In New York City, you can pick up an N95 mask at your local police precinct or firehouse. They are also available at the city’s Neighborhood Health Action Centers.
“We expect [the smoke condition] could change in the next few days,” Mayor Adams said at City Hall on Thursday afternoon. “New Yorkers should stay informed and be prepared to adjust their plans, and take care of themselves. If the air quality index goes over 150, all New Yorkers should take precaution.”
Hizzoner noted that the new round of smoke was yet another reminder of climate change’s perils impacting the city. Wildfires have been burning across Canada since the start of the year, thanks in part to an unusually hot, dry and prolonged weather pattern, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center.
Some 235 wildfires are still burning in Canada out of control.
“It still amazes me that a fire that’s thousands of miles away is impacting the city in this manner,” Adams remarked. “It just really, again, emphasizes the importance of dealing with our climate.”
With AP reports