NYC health alert over Canadian wildfire smoke

If ever there was a day to stop and enjoy the New York City skyline, This wasn’t it. 

Smoke from multiple wildfires in Canada has poured into the northeast United States, creating potential health risks for the health of millions.

"I thought there was a local fire when I went outside," said Rutgers air quality expert Prof. Monica Mazurek.

According to Meteorologist Frank Pereira of the National Weather Service, a smoky haze s staying in our skies s due to a slow-moving low-pressure system centered near Nova Scotia. 

As a result; the air quality is so bad, the NWS has rated it unhealthy and put out an alert encouraging people to stay inside.

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 06: People look out over Manhattan enveloped in a dense haze caused by wildfires in Canada on June 06, 2023 in New York City. Over 100 wildfires are burning in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia and Quebec resulting in air quality health alerts for the Adirondacks, Eastern Lake Ontario, Central New York and Western New York.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Inhaling toxic smoke and ash from wildfires can cause eye, lung, or threat irritation, along with causing asthma attacks and breathing problems. The smoke can also make the effects of heart disease worse.

Most at-risk from wildfire smoke are people with lung or heart disease, along with older adults, children, and pregnant women, according to Environment Canada.

New York's Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a health advisory for almost all of the state, saying that air quality would be "unhealthy" for sensitive groups. The advisory will last until June 7.

Residents are recommended to limit strenuous outdoor physical activity.

How does wildfire smoke affect your health?

Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of gases, particles, and water vapor that contains multiple pollutants that can get into the lungs and bloodstream. 

There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure to some of the pollutants, meaning that smoke can impact your health even at very low levels. 

Inhaling smoke from wildfires can cause headaches, sore and watery eyes, nose, throat, and sinus irritation, chest pains, heart palpitations, and more. 

Who should be careful?

Exposure to elevated fine particle pollution levels can affect the lungs and heart.

The air quality alerts caution "sensitive groups," a big category that includes children, older adults, and people with lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Kids, who often are encouraged to go out and play, "are more susceptible to smoke for a number of reasons," said Laura Kate Bender, the lung association's National Assistant Vice President, healthy air. "Their lungs are still developing, they breathe in more air per unit of body weight."

What can you do for now?

It's a good time to put off that yard work and outdoor exercise. If you go out, consider wearing an N95 mask to reduce your exposure to pollutants.

Stay inside, keeping your doors, windows and fireplaces shut. It's recommended that you run the air conditioning on a recirculation setting.

"If you have filters on your home HVAC system, you should make sure they’re up to date and high quality," Hill said. "Some people, particularly those with underlying lung disease, or heart disease, should consider investing in in air purifiers for their homes."

With the Associated Press.