Air Quality Health Advisory Issued Statewide for Tomorrow
New Forest Ranger Team Being Deployed to Fight Quebec Wildfires
Hundreds of Thousands of N95-Style Masks Will Continue to be Available to the Public Statewide
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the existing air quality health advisory for the entire state will remain in effect through Thursday, and State Agencies and Authorities continue to coordinate ongoing air quality monitoring, public awareness and education, mask distribution, and other efforts to prevent or limit exposure to elevated levels of smoke-driven air pollution across New York. The Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health are closely monitoring air quality for impacts from Canadian wildfires and issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for tomorrow after forecasts of levels of particulate matter pollution that are 'Unhealthy' and 'Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.' In addition, the Governor announced that a third crew of Forest Rangers is deploying to Quebec to assist in the Canadian fire response.
"As we continue to monitor air quality levels and provide communities with the information and tools they need to help prevent exposure to smoke-related air pollution, New Yorkers should remain vigilant and take steps to stay safe," Governor Hochul said. "I thank the brave New York Forest Rangers joining the Canadian wildfire response and wish them a safe journey as they prepare to assist in the ongoing efforts to control the fires north of our borders."
Governor Hochul announced earlier today that the air quality health advisory for Wednesday, June 28 expanded to include the entire state. Tomorrow, Thursday, June 29, smoke will slowly move eastward and stall over Central New York as a high-pressure system meanders over the Mid-Atlantic coast, with the highest concentrations of smoke-induced fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution expected across Western and Northern New York. The smoke plume is expected to move out of New York more slowly than it moved in and heavier smoke is expected to remain upstate through much of Friday.
Air quality is forecasted to reach 'Unhealthy' Air Quality Index levels tomorrow for Western and Central New York, Eastern Lake Ontario, and the Adirondacks. At this level, everyone may begin to experience health effects, members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects. Air quality is forecasted to reach 'Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups' in the rest of the state. At this level, members of sensitive groups such as people with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions like asthma, young children, and older adults, may be more at risk of health effects from smoke. To learn more, see chart here.
Emergency cell phone alerts will be used to warn New Yorkers if air quality index exceeds the 200 threshold for 'Very Unhealthy' air and sustained for longer than an hour. The alerts will be transmitted via the Wireless Emergency Alert system, managed by the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
Additional forecast information will be available tomorrow. While Air Quality Index levels are forecast to range from 'Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups' to 'Unhealthy' for all during this time, DEC and DOH issue Air Quality Health Advisories and corresponding guidelines based on 24-hour forecasts and one-hour values may exceed forecast values in these regions. Visit dec.ny.gov for updated forecasts and information about air quality index levels, and www.health.ny.gov for information on health risks and precautions related to air quality. Also note that early Independence Day fireworks celebrations may contribute particulates and smoke to create temporary, locally-elevated conditions and may be noted by air monitoring devices.
Governor Hochul also announced today that eight Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers are deploying to Quebec to assist with efforts to contain the ongoing wildfires. A Forest Ranger will serve as crew boss for the 20-person interstate Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact crew that includes the New York team and firefighters from New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. The crew will begin mobilization tomorrow and spend approximately two weeks in Canada. This is the third deployment of New York resources to help fight fires in Canada. Earlier this week, Governor Hochul welcomed home eight Rangers deployed to Nova Scotia and Quebec.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Our Forest Rangers are always willing to raise their hands when requests come in for help. After two successful missions to Canada already, we're fortunate to have more brave men and women looking forward to their opportunity to make a difference and help protect the public and the environment."
State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, "I thank Governor Hochul for her leadership, and DHSES and DEC for their partnership with DOH, as we continue to provide the resources and information necessary to help address potential exposure to harmful air quality. With elevated air pollution levels now predicted across the state, New Yorkers should remain aware of their local air quality and take necessary precautions like staying inside, reducing exposure, minimizing exertion when outdoors, and consider using an N95 mask while these unhealthy conditions persist."
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "New Yorkers should continue to pay close attention to air quality in their communities today and tomorrow. Based on conditions where you live, consider limiting your time outdoors and, if you must go outside, wear a high-quality face mask."
At the Governor's direction, hundreds of thousands of high-quality N95-style masks have been made available to New Yorkers to address air quality impacts. 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
- 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 New York State Department of Health is advising precautions as necessary. Steps for individuals to take to reduce risk, include:
- When AQI is greater than 100 ('Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups'), New Yorkers in vulnerable groups should avoid exertion outdoors and watch for symptoms when exposed to the outdoors. Vulnerable individuals include those with cardiovascular disease (e.g., congestive heart failure, history of prior heart attack) or lung disease (e.g., asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), as well as children under 18, adults 65 and older, and pregnant people.
- When AQI is greater than 150 ('Unhealthy'), all New Yorkers should avoid strenuous outdoor activities, and those in vulnerable groups should avoid exposure to the outdoors, especially pregnant individuals who may become short of breath more easily. In addition, some employees who are vulnerable should work indoors and camp directors should know their local AQI forecast and alert level and follow AQI guidance.
- When AQI is greater than 200 ('Very Unhealthy'), vulnerable groups should avoid all physical activity outdoors, and reschedule or move activities indoors. All others should avoid long or intense outdoor activities.
- When AQI is greater than 300 ('Hazardous'), all New Yorkers should avoid outdoor physical activities.
- For people who spend time outdoors, when air quality is unhealthy, wearing a well-fitting face mask is recommended. A N95 or KN95 will work best.
More information about New York State Air Quality forecast is available here. To check your location's current air quality, go to www.airnow.gov.