First-Time Use of Emergency Cell Phone Alerts Will Warn New Yorkers When Air Quality Index Exceeds 200 Threshold For ‘Very Unhealthy’ Air
Potential for Temporary Spikes in Air Quality Index Levels to Reach 'Very Unhealthy' or 'Hazardous’ Across the State This Week
Hundreds of Thousands of N95-Style Masks Available to the Public Statewide
Hospitals Should Remain on Alert for Influx of Emergency Department Visits from Patients Experiencing Respiratory Issues
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
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the air quality health advisory for today has expanded to include the entire state as smoke from Canadian wildfires continues to cause the Air Quality Index to reach unhealthy levels. The New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health updated the Air Quality Health Advisory issued for today, Wednesday, June 28, to include all of New York State. Air in Western New York, Central New York, and the Eastern Lake Ontario regions is forecast to be ‘Unhealthy’ for all New Yorkers. The forecast for the remainder of the state, including New York City and Long Island, is ‘Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.’ The Governor also announced the first-time use of emergency cell phone alerts, which 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.
“With smoke from the Canadian wildfires once again impacting air quality throughout our state this week, we’re urging New Yorkers to remain vigilant,” Governor Hochul said. “We’re activating emergency cell phone alerts to ensure New Yorkers have the latest information and are continuing to coordinate with local counties to monitor conditions and distribute masks. I encourage all New Yorkers to stay informed about the latest updates and take the necessary precautions to protect yourselves and your loved ones.”
Significant near-surface smoke impacts are not currently forecast to reach Eastern New York, including New York City and Long Island, until late afternoon. However, conditions are likely to deteriorate quickly once the smoke moves in. State Agencies continue to closely monitor air quality statewide as smoke is forecast to continue moving to the eastern portions of New York State on Thursday, June 29. 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.
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
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC expert meteorologists have updated the forecast for today as the plume progresses further east. We will continue to keep the public informed of the significant near surface smoke impacts expected statewide as conditions change.”
State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, "With elevated air pollution levels now predicted across the state, the New York State Department of Health recommends New Yorkers remain aware of their local air quality and take necessary precautions, which may include limiting strenuous outdoor activity to reduce the risk of adverse health effects. People who are especially sensitive to elevated levels of pollutants, including the very young and those with pre-existing respiratory problems such as heart disease or asthma, should avoid spending time outdoors, if possible, in areas where the AQI is over 100. You can monitor the levels in your area with airnow.gov, or the weather app on your phone. If you must go outdoors in areas that have air that is unhealthy or worse, consider wearing an N95 mask. Those who experience symptoms, or have symptoms that worsen, should consider consulting their personal physician."
DEC and DOH issue Air Quality Health Advisories when ozone or fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are expected to exceed an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 100. To subscribe for advisories delivered by email, please click here.
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.