New York, 9 June, 2023 (GNP): New York City faced severe air pollution on Wednesday as smoke from Canadian wildfires permeated the area.
The city endured a second day of hazy, orange skies, leading residents to don protective face masks when outdoors. The Air Quality Index (AQI) soared to 342 by Wednesday afternoon, reaching hazardous levels for all residents. Consequently, outdoor activities in schools were canceled, with further deterioration in air quality expected.
To address the situation, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily halted certain flights bound for LaGuardia Airport due to the smoke, while reduced visibility caused delays at Newark Liberty International Airport.
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Governor Kathy Hochul declared the poor air quality an “emergency crisis” with potential persistence over the next few days. Urging people to prioritize their health, Hochul advised residents to stay indoors whenever possible.
Major League Baseball (MLB) responded to the hazardous conditions by postponing two games, and the popular musical production “Hamilton” announced the cancellation of performances due to the unsafe air quality.
City officials cautioned residents, especially vulnerable groups such as children, older adults, and those with preexisting respiratory issues, to limit outdoor activities.
The smoke from the wildfires releases fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which can cause respiratory problems like asthma and bronchitis. The current PM2.5 concentration in New York City exceeds the World Health Organization’s air quality guideline value by 15 times.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for all five boroughs, expecting its effectiveness to persist for the next few days. However, officials acknowledge the difficulty in accurately forecasting smoke conditions.