Air quality alert for New York City as smoke from Canadian wildfires sweeps through area

Hazy air quality over the Manhattan skyline
Haze hangs over the Manhattan skyline on June 6, 2023 thanks to smoke that wafted in from wildfires in Canada.
Photo by Dean Moses

New York City is under an air quality health advisory Tuesday as smoke from wildfires in Canada is sweeping through the area — blocking out the sun and creating hazy skies across town.

Smoke from the wildfires, which have been burning across a swath of eastern Canada stretching through Ontario and Quebec, has been wafting southward over the eastern United States. It not only contributes to overcast skies, but the smoke also contains fine particulate matter that may aggravate symptoms of those with respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis or COPD.

Short-term health effects from exposure to the smoke include eye, nose and throat irritation; coughing; sneezing; runny nose; and shortness of breath. Anyone with heart or breathing problems, as well as children and seniors, could find themselves particularly sensitive to the smoke, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

To avoid exposure, limit any strenuous activities outside. If you are more likely to suffer symptoms from smoke exposure, stay inside if possible, and limit the amount of time you are outside to strictly essential activities, according to the National Weather Service.

New Yorkers should also minimize the use of items that contribute to pollution, such as cars, gas-powered lawn mowers and other fuel-burning vehicles, the National Weather Service noted.

More than 160 fires have been reported in Quebec, including at least 114 that remain out of control, according to the Associated Press. Over 173,000 hectares have been burned, and some 10,000 residents have been evacuated from the fire zone.

With AP reports