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Air Quality Health Advisory issued for WNY due to Canadian wildfires

 A map showing the air quality i Western New York and Southern Ontario. The red and orange dots indicate the air quality index.
A fire and smoke map displaying the air quality in Western New York due to the Canadian wildfires. The red and orange dots indicate the air quality index in parts of both the Western New York and Southern Ontario region.

An Air Quality Health Advisory was issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Health (DOH) for Western New York starting Wednesday at midnight through 11:59 p.m.

The pollutant of concern is fine particulate matter or PM 2.5, which consists of tiny solid particles or liquid droplets in the air that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter.

Exposure can cause individuals to experience short-term health effects such as irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Groups that may be most sensitive to the exposure of PM 2.5 are people with heart or breathing problems, the elderly, and children.

The public is advised by the DEC and DOH to avoid outdoor exposure and strenuous activities.

The elevated air pollution levels are due to the smoke that has drifted over Western New York from the wildfires in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia. The fires have elevated air pollution levels throughout the country, with air quality alerts issued in a total of 17 states.

The wildfires are reported to be one of the worst starts to Canada’s wildfire season ever recorded, with currently over 150 fires within the province of Quebec.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said the DEC and DOH will “continue to keep the public informed with the latest on air quality alerts.”

The smoke is forecasted to drift into the northeast throughout the rest of the week, alongside continued elevated air pollution levels.