June 27, 2023
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Urges New Yorkers to Take Appropriate Precautions as Smoke From Canadian Wildfires Is Expected to Significantly Impact Air Quality in New York This Week

Governor Hochul Urges New Yorkers to Take Appropriate Precautions as Smoke From Canadian Wildfires Is Expected to Significantly Impact Air Quality in New York This Week

Air Quality Health Advisory for Fine Particulate Matter Issued for Western New York, Central New York, and Eastern Lake Ontario for Wednesday, June 28; Additional Impacts Expected on Thursday, June 29

Potential for Temporary Spikes in Air Quality Index Levels to Reach 'Very Unhealthy' or 'Hazardous'

New Yorkers Should Expect Impacts to Outdoor Activities in Coming Days

Hundreds of Thousands of N95-Style Masks Available to the Public Statewide

Governor Directs Updates to New Yorkers on Transit Systems, Roadways, and Wireless Emergency Alert System

Video of Governor's Air Quality Update Here and Audio Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today urged New Yorkers, especially those sensitive to air pollution, to use caution and prepare as smoke from Canadian wildfires is expected to significantly impact air quality throughout New York this week, with air pollution potentially reaching 'Unhealthy' levels. Already, the New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health have issued an air quality health advisory for Western New York, Central New York and Eastern Lake Ontario regions for Wednesday, June 28. The agencies continue to closely monitor air quality statewide as smoke is forecast to move 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, New Yorkers are advised there may be short periods of time where the Air Quality Index temporarily worsens and reaches the 'Very Unhealthy' or 'Hazardous' levels.

"Smoke from Canadian wildfires is forecasted to significantly impact air quality across New York into tomorrow and Thursday," Governor Hochul said. "We continue to closely monitor conditions and will be distributing masks in regions impacted by the smoke. I encourage all New Yorkers to stay up to date on the latest information and take appropriate steps to protect their health."

Governor Hochul has directed the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to alert impacted communities via the Wireless Emergency Alert System in the event 'Very Unhealthy' or 'Hazardous' levels are reached. Additionally, transportation agencies and authorities have been directed to provide warnings on public transportation and on Variable Message Signs along roadways. Once again, N95-style masks will be available to New Yorkers statewide.

Current forecasts show a cold front entering Western New York from the northwest in the early morning hours Wednesday, reaching downstate regions by Wednesday evening, with winds expected to bring significant near-surface smoke impacts statewide. DEC and DOH issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for Wednesday, June 28, for the Western and Central New York and Eastern Lake Ontario air quality regions. DEC and DOH issue Air Quality Health Advisories and corresponding guidelines based on 24-hour forecasts, although one-hour values may exceed forecast values in these regions.

Although forecast uncertainty remains, New Yorkers should be prepared for elevated levels of fine particulate pollution caused by smoke on Wednesday and Thursday. Current projections show the highest concentrations of smoke will slowly push east across the eastern half of New York State during the day Thursday, extending across much of the state. Additional details on the forecast for Thursday, June 29, will be made available tomorrow.

At the Governor's direction, hundreds of thousands of high-quality N95-style masks will be made available to New Yorkers to address air quality impacts. In New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Port Authority will distribute masks to commuters at major transit hubs. Additional masks are being made available to counties outside of New York City at State-run stockpiles for further distribution to the public.

Masks will be made 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

The Governor encouraged New Yorkers to begin planning now for potential changes to outdoor activity on Wednesday, June 28 until conditions improve. Summer camp directors should know their local AQI forecast and alert level and follow DOH and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency AQI guidance, available here. DEC and DOH experts continue to monitor air quality, watching smoke and weather patterns closely.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, "Given the heightened air pollution levels we are anticipating across much of the state, the New York State Department of Health recommends New Yorkers in impacted areas limit 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. Monitor the levels in your area with the airnow.gov, or the weather app on your phone, and if you must go outdoors, consider wearing an N95 mask. Those who experience symptoms, or have symptoms that worsen, should consider consulting their personal physician."

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Seggos said, "DEC is working closely with Governor Hochul and our agency partners to provide timely information about DEC's continuous air quality monitoring. DEC will continue to keep the public informed so they can make the best choices for their health and protection."

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "New Yorkers should closely monitor the air quality in your region, limit outdoor exposure accordingly and consider wearing a mask."

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.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640

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