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Smoke and Ash Cloud from Canada Prompts Local Governments to Issue Safety Measures

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June 7, 2023

This story has been updated–and may well be again.

By Barrett Seaman–

Work for The Hud Indy

What began as a light mist in the morning hours deepened into an ominous rust-colored shadow over the entire region. On top of a statewide air quality alert, Weschester County cancelled all county-sponsored outdoor activities and advised other organizations to do that same. County workers whose jobs require them to be out of doors were told they must wear masks.

The pollution levels in New York City have been reported to be the worst in the world, with the Air Quality Index in Brooklyn and Queens registering over 400, where 50 is consider normal.

Exposure to pollutants drifting down from massive forest fires in Quebec “can cause short-term health effects, such as irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath,” a county advisory warned. “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. Residents should keep all windows closed if possible.”

In other local developments, Hastings schools shut down all buildings at the end of the school day Wednesday and canceled all after-school activities. Irvington schools canceled a planned sixth grade outing to Playland as well as a hike scheduled for Main Street School students. All other activities were moved indoors. Greenburgh suspended its bulk pick-up service for Thursday to reduce the time its DPW workers are exposed to the smoky air.

Additional information is available on DEC and on DOH websites.

At a briefing late Wednesday afternoon, Governor Hochul said that the high concentrations in the New York city region were expected to abate somewhat Thursday as the plume moves westward towards Buffalo, but she added that full relief is not expected until over the weekend.

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