Thursday, June 8, 2023, June 08, 2023 WIB
Last Updated 2023-06-08T23:35:08Z

New York is Increasingly Emergency, Residents Are Advised Not to Leave the House

Pictured: Haze from the wildfires in Canada blankets the Statue of Liberty in the Upper Bay on June 7, 2023 in New York City. (Getty Images/David Dee Delgado)

New York City and other parts of the US East Coast have been shrouded in red, smoky haze since Tuesday night, June 6, 2023. This is the result of forest fires raging in Canada, with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre reporting 400 fires in the country. This has led to smoke spreading as far as Michigan from New York.

On June 7, New York City was identified as having the worst air quality on Earth, according to IQAir. This has raised concerns about the health of residents. Air quality expert Colin McCarthy noted on Twitter that the 24-hour exposure to current air quality in NYC is equivalent to smoking around six cigarettes.

Due to the smoke, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has suspended some flights to New York's LaGuardia Airport, while visibility issues have caused delays at Newark Liberty International Airport.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has called the poor air quality a "public health crisis" and warned that it could continue for several days. City officials have advised residents to limit outdoor activities, and have cautioned that children, older adults, and those with pre-existing respiratory issues are particularly vulnerable.

Smoke from the fires releases fine particulate matter called PM2.5, which can cause health problems, such as asthma and bronchitis. The concentration of PM2.5 in New York City is currently 15 times higher than the World Health Organization's annual air quality guideline. The city has also issued air quality health advisories until Thursday.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has also issued Air Quality Health Advisories for all five of the state's regions. City officials have said they expect the advisories to remain in place for several days, though they add that it is challenging to predict smoke conditions.

"This is perhaps the largest of this nature that we have experienced," said Mayor Eric Adams. "Climate change is accelerating this condition. We have to continue to reduce emissions, improve air quality, and build resilience."

Despite the severity of the situation, pulmonary specialist Adrian Pristas at Hackensack Meridian Bayshore Medical Center says it is unlikely to last for months like a pandemic. The duration of the smoke will depend on the progress of the fires in Canada, and people should pay attention accordingly.