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AIR QUALITY ALERT: New Yorkers warned to stay inside as dangerous smoke from Canadian wildfires covers the city

Jun. 7, 2023 By Robert Pozarycki

Dangerous smoke from Canadian wildfires continues to shroud New York City in an acrid, hazy blanket — prompting yet another air quality alert on Wednesday.

Public schools across the Five Boroughs cancelled all outdoor activities on June 7, and Mayor Eric Adams warned those with respiratory conditions and others vulnerable to the smoke — including children and seniors — to stay inside as air quality levels hovered into “unhealthy” levels. 

The smoke is coming from burning wildfires in the forests of Quebec and Ontario, consuming millions of acres and sending people in the fire zone fleeing for their lives. Smelling like wood in a burning fireplace, the acrid shroud made its way southward before arriving in New York City on Monday — and the air quality deteriorated from there.

Child with mask during poor air quality and smoke filled skies in Queens

A masked child carried by his mom on the streets of Flushing, Queens amid poor air quality and smoke-filled skies on June 7, 2023.Photo by Dean Moses

By 10 p.m. Tuesday, Mayor Adams reported, the city’s air quality index — which the federal Environmental Protection Agency uses to measure levels of air pollutants in parts per million — hit 218, a score considered “very unhealthy.” Those levels dropped slightly overnight; as of 7:55 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to IQAir, New York City’s air quality index stood at an “unhealthy” 160.

Still, Mayor Adams indicated, the smoke situation will likely deteriorate again on Wednesday. 

“Currently, we are taking precautions out of an abundance of caution to protect New Yorkers’ health until we are able to get a better sense of future air quality reports,” Mayor Adams said in a statement. “We recommend all New Yorkers limit outdoor activity to the greatest extent possible. Those with preexisting respiratory problems, like heart or breathing problems, as well as children and older adults may be especially sensitive and should stay indoors at this time.

The city advises all residents  — especially those with heart or breathing problems, children and seniors — to limit outdoor activity and remain inside during the smoky situation. Those most vulnerable to the smoke, if they do venture outside, should wear a high-quality N95 or KN95 mask to reduce exposure.

7 train arrives amid smoke filled skies on air quality alert day in Queens

A Flushing-bound 7 train arrives in Sunnyside, Queens against the backdrop of a hazy, smoke-filled Manhattan skyline on June 7, 2023.Photo by Dean Moses

If you’re suffering a medical emergency as a result of the air, call 911. For further information about the air quality situation, contact the city at 800-535-1345.

If you’re venturing out Wednesday, try to keep your car at home and help reduce the pollution levels. Take public transit instead.

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