Governor Hochul Cautions New Yorkers as Air Quality Health Advisories Issued for Today

Governor Kathy Hochul announced air quality health advisories for today, July 17 for the entire state as smoke from wildfires in Western Canada continues to negatively affect air quality across the region. The smoke is expected to cause the Air Quality Index to reach levels in Upstate communities that are ‘Unhealthy for All’ New Yorkers. The forecast for the Lower Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island is expected to reach ‘Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.’

“New Yorkers should once again prepare for smoke from the wildfires in Western Canada to impact our state’s air quality this week,” Governor Hochul said. “To help everyone stay informed and safe, we are activating emergency notifications on our roads and public transit systems and making masks available to counties for distribution. As forecasts continue to evolve, I encourage New Yorkers to stay up to date on the latest information and take the necessary precautions to protect yourselves and your loved ones.”

Forecast models currently predict elevated levels of smoke-enhanced fine particulate matter (PM2.5) will spread across Upstate New York. The chemical compounds found in wildfire smoke are also expected to enhance ozone production Downstate. Forecasts for Tuesday show smoke slowly clearing out of the state. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is closely watching forecast models and data to determine if smoke or ozone will rise to levels that would trigger issuing Air Quality Health Advisories on Tuesday.

DEC and the State Department of Health (DOH) are issuing Air Quality Health Advisories for fine particulate levels that are unhealthy for any New Yorker due to smoke for the Western New York, Eastern Lake Ontario, Central New York, Adirondacks, and Upper Hudson Valley regions. Air Quality Health Advisories are also being issued for the Lower Hudson Valley and New York City Metro regions, where smoke is forecast to reach levels that are “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups,” as smoke moves in later in the day. In addition, an Air Quality Health Advisory for ozone that is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups is forecasted for the Long Island and New York City Metro regions.

Emergency cell phone alerts will be used to warn New Yorkers if air quality index exceeds the 200 threshold for ‘Very Unhealthy’ air and sustained for longer than an hour. The alerts will be transmitted via the Wireless Emergency Alert system, managed by the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

At the Governor’s direction, hundreds of thousands of high-quality N95-style masks have been made available to New Yorkers to address air quality impacts and will continue to be made available to counties at State-run stockpiles for further distribution to the public.

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