Adams said the air quality index hit 218 at 10 p.m. Tuesday — “a very unhealthy level” — which “sent shock waves throughout the county and region.”
Iscol said that at this time of the year, it’s “very normal” to have an AQI of more than 100 but that it’s concerning when the rating surpasses a threshold of 150.
By Wednesday, Brooklyn had recorded 413, and Queens wasn’t far behind at 407, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a news conference.
She said she considered the situation “a health and environmental crisis” and urged New Yorkers to limit their time outdoors.
Nancy Liang, who was wearing a mask as a precaution in Hoboken, said Wednesday: “The sun was orange when I woke up today. I didn’t want to breathe in the air like that.”
Adams urged New Yorkers to take precautions and said the city recommends that all vulnerable people stay indoors, limit outdoor time, close windows and doors and use air purifiers.
“If you’re older or have heart or breathing problems, you should remain inside or wear a mask,” he said.
While New York City students were in school Wednesday, all outside events were canceled. Thursday is a regularly scheduled no-attendance staff day.
According to AirNow.gov, the website of the Environmental Protection Agency, the higher the AQI, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. AQI at or below 100 is considered satisfactory, but when it is above 100, air quality is considered unhealthy.
At 150 to 200, the air quality is considered to have possible health effects for sensitive groups.
The weather service said Wednesday that winds could shift more easterly after Thursday, pushing smoke farther west into the interior Northeast and the Ohio Valley on Friday.
Over the weekend, a stalled low pressure system near Maine is likely to continue to steer smoke from Quebec’s wildfires into the northeastern U.S., the agency’s New York City office said.
The three major airports that serve the New York City region — LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty— all reported delays and other possible disruptions due to conditions Wednesday, including low visibility.
New York’s state government announced a plan to distribute 1 million free N95 masks, including 400,000 to be handed out at public transportation and state-owned locations in the New York City area.
New York City Health Commissione Dr. Ashwin Vasan said Wednesday that, so far, there hadn’t been an uptick in emergency room visits due to complications from the air quality event.
“That could change, and we’re monitoring that closely,” he said.