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Air quality alert issued in all New York regions

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

The entire state is under an air quality alert due to smoke from Canadian wildfires. Courtesy of NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

With Canada still experiencing wildfires, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation again issued a statewide air quality alert Wednesday afternoon.

Both the lower and upper Hudson Valley, including the Capital Region, were issued an alert, with air quality deemed “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” according to the DEC.

All regions in New York state were issued an air quality alert Wednesday.

A cold front is bringing with it winds that are shifting wildfire smoke from Canada into New York state.

Today’s air quality alert follows several days of alerts earlier this month when smoke and pollutants from Canadian wildfires drifted into the U.S., causing pollution and air quality issues for millions of Americans.

Hundreds of fires have been blazing across Canada for weeks.

The Air Quality Index, or AQI, is measured by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for five major pollutants: ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

 The pollutant of concern is particulate matter, which was generated by the wildfires to the north.

The index runs from 0 to 500. Wednesday’s alert indicated that the AQI in the Hudson Valley was 101. The Eastern Lake Ontario, Central and Western regions of the state measured higher levels of 155, 151 and 165, respectively.

The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution. An AQI value of 50 or below indicates good air quality, while a value of more than 300 is considered hazardous to health.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said Tuesday that air quality could temporarily deteriorate over this week and state officials urged New Yorkers, particularly those sensitive to air pollution, to take steps to protect their health.

“Given the heightened air pollution levels we are anticipating across much of the state, the New York State Department of Health recommends New Yorkers in impacted areas limit strenuous outdoor activity to reduce the risk of adverse health effects,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald. “People who are especially sensitive to elevated levels of pollutants, including the very young and those with pre-existing respiratory problems such as heart disease or asthma, should avoid spending time outdoors, if possible.”

You can check the air quality in your area by visiting airnow.gov.

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