The Air Quality Index reached a reported 484 Wednesday June 7th which is deemed “hazardous” and an air quality warning remained in effect on Thursday June 8th even as the mayor’s office said conditions were improving.
Both the New York Yankees and the New York Liberty postponed their games on Wednesday evening. On Broadway, both Hamilton and Camelot cancelled their June 7th shows.
“The hazardous air quality in New York City has made it impossible for a number of our artists to perform this evening,” said Shane Marshall Brown, a spokesman for Hamilton. “Shows will resume as scheduled tomorrow. We apologize for the inconvenience and encourage you to visit your point of purchase for refund or exchange.”
Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday evening said the yellowish orange haze from more than 100 raging Canadian wildfires is both “unprecedented” and “alarming.” But he warned this may not be the last time we face such adverse conditions.
Anytime the index passes 100, a measurement of the tiny pollutant particles often caused by combustion, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Health issue health advisories.
The Yankees had played through the haze on Tuesday night. The Mets are playing in Atlanta and the smokey haze has not crept that far south...so far. But it apparently has reached Philadelphia, prompting Major League Baseball to also postpone the Phillies game on June 7.
In Manhattan, Mayor Eric Adams said the Air Quality Index had hit 218 on Tuesday night but eased slightly to 175 by Wednesday morning, but is expected to spike again on Thursday. But then in his Wednesday evening press conference he said it had spiked even higher to 484 asround 5 pm, deemed “hazardous” and close to the highest possible measurement of 500.
People who are sensitive to the effects of elevated levels of pollution including the very young and the people with asthma, heart disease or other pre-existing conditions should avoid spending time outdoors, if possible, warned the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation and Health by Wednesday morning. But as the haze continued to blanket the city, health officials were warning everyone to stay indoors if possible and mask up when outside.
“This time of year, it’s very normal to have a rating over 100,” Adams noted at a morning press conference on June 7. “You have pollen in the air, you have different weather events, the heat pollution, so it’s sort of normal to hit 100. What’s not normal is to go above 150.”
At around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, New York City schools canceled outdoor activities. Gov. Kathy Hochul urged that other localities follow suit. The air quality on Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley were not deemed quite as potent and were deemed unhealthy only to those with underlying conditions, according to AQI standards.
New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol, Department of Education Chancellor David Banks joined Adams at a Wednesday morning press conference. “Avoid going outside unless you absolutely have to,” urged Vasan. “For people who must be outdoors, a high quality mass like an N95, KN95 or a KF94 is recommended.”
“We expect this to be a multiple-day event, so we expect that that advisory to remain in place for the next few days,” Iscol said.
“While this may be the first time we’ve experienced something like this, of this magnitude, let’s be clear–it’s not the last,” Adams warned. “Climate change has accelerated these conditions,” he said. “We must continue to draw down emissions, improve air quality and build resiliency.”
In a separate press conference Wednesday evening, Gov. Hochul said, “The best way to stay safe right now is to stay indoors. We highly recommend outdoor activities be postponed or cancelled as we wait for safer air quality conditions. If you must be outside for significant periods, wear a high-quality mask to reduce exposure.”