New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Dr. James McDonald issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for all of New York, including Eastern Lake Ontario, Central New York, and Western New York regions for Monday.
The pollutants of concern are Fine Particulate Matter due to wildfires in Western Canada that continue to affect air quality across the region negatively. The smoke is expected to cause the Air Quality Index to reach levels in Upstate communities that are ‘Unhealthy for All’ New Yorkers.
Fine particulate matter consists of tiny solid particles or liquid droplets in the air that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter. PM 2.5 can be made of many different types of particles and often come from processes that involve combustion (e.g. vehicle exhaust, power plants, and fires) and from chemical reactions in the atmosphere.
Exposure can cause short-term health effects such as irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Exposure to elevated levels of fine particulate matter can also worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. People with heart or breathing problems, and children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to PM 2.5.
When outdoor levels are elevated, going indoors may reduce exposure. If there are significant indoor sources of PM 2.5 (tobacco, candle or incense smoke, or fumes from cooking) levels inside may not be lower than outside. Some ways to reduce exposure are to minimize outdoor and indoor sources and avoid strenuous activities in areas where fine particle concentrations are high.