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Smoke fills NYC’s skyline
Photograph: courtesy Kyle Baggett, @baggettimages

There's an unhealthy air quality alert for NYC today

Smoke from Canadian wildfires is drifting through the Tri-state area.

Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Written by
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

New York City isn’t necessarily known for its super fresh air, but this week has been especially rough.

Today’s air quality alert deems New York City’s air unhealthy, meaning that “everyone may begin to experience health effects” and “members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.” Public schools have canceled all outdoor activities today, due to health risks and the smell of smoke and it’s being reported the NYC has the second-worst levels of air pollution in the world after New Delhi, India.

“If you are an older adult or have heart or breathing problems and need to be outside, wear a high-quality mask (e.g. N95 or KN95),” the office of Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. Staying indoors is recommended. 

Canada is currently experiencing its worst wildfire season on record, with over 8 million acres burning at the start of the season. More than 100 wildfires are still burning near Quebec. The smoke is now billowing into the states.

Yesterday, June 6, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) issued an air quality alert for the New York City Metro area, Long Island, Lower Hudson Valley, Upper Hudson Valley, Adirondacks, Eastern Lake Ontario, and Central Regions. 

By mid-morning, upstate New York was trending on Twitter for eerie yellow and smoggy skies near the Canadian border, eventually drifting southwards into the Hudson Valley. By evening, the smog covered New York in a post-apocalyptic haze (but that didn’t stop New Yorkers from outdoor dining, or re-routing their typical Tuesday nights).

And last night, a ruby-colored fog covered the sky at dusk and sunset, resulting in a smoggy effect that while eerie, photographed well, as seen in social posts by New Yorkers throughout the city.  

Exposure to these fine air particles can affect lung health, and worsen conditions such as asthma and heart disease. These fine particles can also travel deeply into the respiratory tract and cause short-term conditions including eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. 

To keep abreast of the situation, you can check real-time air quality in your neighborhood via an online portal

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