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New Yorkers face ‘new normal’ over air quality concerns

Newsman: More than 100 million people are under air quality alerts Friday morning from Wisconsin to Vermont and down to North Carolina as smoke from Canadian wildfires continues to waft south.

On Friday, the United States’ worst air quality is expected to span from Michigan to Ohio and into the Mid-Atlantic, including Washington, DC.

The air in those areas is expected to be rated a level 3 of 6 “unhealthy for sensitive groups” or a level 4 of 6 “unhealthy” on the US Air Quality Index developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Current air quality ratings can be found on AirNow.gov, a partnership of agencies including the EPA.

Health officials to urge people with respiratory and cardiac problems to be cautious.

“Unhealthy for sensitive groups” typically includes the elderly, young children, those with certain chronic illnesses and outdoor workers.

Detroit, which topped the same list on Thursday evening, ranked fourth early Friday, while New York City was sixth, the website showed.

Conditions are expected to improve slowly into the holiday weekend.

More than 500 active wildfires raging across Canada have tanked the air quality across parts of that country and the United States. As of early Friday, Toronto topped a list of the world’s major cities with the worst air quality, followed by Washington, DC, according to IQAir.

“Air quality is expected to improve in the short term as a combination of thunderstorm activity and dispersion of smoke will ultimately result in improving air quality conditions for much of the country heading into the weekend,” the National Weather Service said.

In New York, a statewide air quality health advisory will remain in effect through Friday, urging residents to take necessary preventative measures – like masking – to stay safe outdoors, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday. “With ground-level smoke more visible and air quality continuing to reach unhealthy levels in many parts of the state, we encourage New Yorkers to take precautions to protect their health,” she said.

The western and central parts of New York along with the eastern Lake Ontario region are forecast Friday to reach the “unhealthy” air quality threshold, the governor’s office said. Other areas in the state could see air rated in the less severe “unhealthy for sensitive groups” category.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Department of Environmental Conservation are warning New Yorkers that the air quality is expected to reach unhealthy levels in some parts of the state.

People with any kind of respiratory or cardiac conditions, the elderly and young children are all urged to be careful.

Officials advise limiting outdoor activities and wearing a high-grade mask when stepping outside. If you don’t have a proper mask, FDNY firehouses and NYPD precincts can provide you with one.

Hochul says mobile alerts are on standby for New Yorkers to receive if the air quality index numbers reach 200 or higher. She says there may still be lingering smoke in the air on Friday, so she is encouraging people to check AirNow.

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