New York City officials are urging some residents to wear face masks again as wildfire smoke from Canada wreaks havoc on the city’s air quality.
The office of Mayor Eric Adams released a statement on Tuesday alerting residents that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for all five boroughs over the Canadian wildfire smoke. The mayor’s office recommended older adults or those with heart or breathing problems who need to be outside “wear a high-quality mask (e.g. N95 or KN95).”
Adams’ office also urged New Yorkers to “limit outdoor activity and stay inside when possible” because “people with heart or breathing problems and children and older adults may be especially sensitive” to the wildfire smoke.
“Currently, we are taking precautions out of an abundance of caution to protect New Yorkers’ health until we are able to get a better sense of future air quality reports,” Adams said. “We recommend all New Yorkers limit outdoor activity to the greatest extent possible. Those with preexisting respiratory problems, like heart or breathing problems, as well as children and older adults may be especially sensitive and should stay indoors at this time.”
“While all students should still go to school tomorrow, New York City public schools will not offer any outdoor activities on Wednesday,” he continued. “These recommendations may change based on updated air quality conditions that come in, but, in the meantime, we recommend all New Yorkers to take the precautions they see fit to protect their health.”
According to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) factsheet, reducing exposure to wildfire smoke is recommended for everyone’s health, especially children, older adults and those with illnesses relating to the heart or lungs.
The EPA suggests taking the following measures to reduce exposure indoors:
- Stay inside.
- Seek shelter elsewhere.
- Do not add to indoor air pollution by burning candles, using gas stoves, smoking, and more.
- Use a portable air cleaner.
- Have a supply of N95 respirators.
When outdoors, the EPA warns that “dust masks or bandanas” are not sufficient forms of protection from smokey conditions and recommends wearing an N95 respirator.