For the first time, emergency cell phone alerts will warn New Yorkers when the Air Quality Index exceeds the “very unhealthy” air threshold of 200.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced today that today’s air quality health advisory has been expanded to cover the entire state as smoke from wildfires in Canada continues to cause the Air Quality Index to reach unhealthy levels. The New York State Department of Environmental Protection and Sanitation has updated its air quality health warnings issued today, Wednesday, June 28, to cover all of New York State. The air in Western New York, Central New York and eastern Lake Ontario is expected to be “unhealthy” for all New Yorkers. The forecast for the rest of the state, including New York City and Long Island, is “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” The governor also announced the first use of emergency cell phone alerts, which will be used to warn New Yorkers if the air quality index exceeds the 200 threshold for “very unhealthy” air for more than an hour. The alerts will be transmitted through the Wireless Emergency Alert System, which is administered by the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

“Smoke from wildfires in Canada has once again impacted our state’s air quality this week, and we urge New Yorkers to remain vigilant.” Governor Hocher said. “We are activating emergency cell phone alerts to ensure New Yorkers are up to date and continue to coordinate with local counties to monitor the situation and distribute masks. I encourage all New Yorkers to stay informed and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and the one you love.”

Significant near-surface smoke impacts are not currently expected to reach eastern New York, including New York City and Long Island, until late afternoon. However, once the smoke sets in, the situation can quickly deteriorate. State agencies continue to closely monitor air quality statewide and the smoke is expected to continue moving into eastern New York State on Thursday, June 29. While AQI levels are forecast to range from “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “unhealthy” for all during this period, DEC and DOH issue air quality health advisories and corresponding guidance based on 24-hour forecasts, hourly values ​​for these areas may exceed forecasts value.access for updated forecast and information about air quality index rating.

At the Governor’s direction, hundreds of thousands of high-quality N95-style masks have been provided to New Yorkers to address air quality impacts. In New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation are distributing masks to commuters at major transit hubs and state parks. The state stockpile is delivering more masks to counties outside of New York City for further distribution to the public.

Masks are available for purchase at:

  • central Station

  • penn station

  • fulton center

  • Jamaica station

  • Port Authority Bus Terminal South Wing Main Concourse

  • Brooklyn Atlantic Avenue

  • Bronx Grand Plaza

  • Shirley Chisholm State Park

  • Clay Pit Pond State Park Reserve

  • danny farrell bank state park

  • Roberto Clemente State Park

Transit authorities across the state are utilizing public address systems, bus time-distance signs, social media and other electronic signage to provide air quality-related safety information directly to customers, including:

  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority

  • nassau transport

  • Westchester County Bee Line

  • Broome County Transportation

  • Capital Region Transit Authority

  • Central New York Transit Authority

  • Rochester Genesee Regional Transit Authority

  • Niagara Border Transportation Authority

Environmental Protection Commissioner Basil Segos said, “As the plume pushes further east, DEC’s expert meteorologists have updated their forecasts for today. As conditions change, we will continue to update the public that significant near-surface smoke impacts are expected statewide.”

National Health Commissioner Dr James McDonald said, “Because of current projected increases in air pollution levels across the state, the New York State Department of Health advises New Yorkers to continue to monitor local air quality and take necessary precautions, which may include limiting strenuous outdoor activity to reduce adverse health effects risk. People who are particularly sensitive to elevated levels of pollutants, including young children and people with respiratory conditions such as heart disease or asthma, should avoid outdoor activities in areas with an AQI over 100 if possible. Monitor levels in your area Aviation Network, or the weather app on your phone. If you must travel outdoors in an area with unhealthy air or worse, consider wearing an N95 mask. Those experiencing symptoms or worsening symptoms should consider consulting their personal physician. “

DEC and DOH issue air quality health advisories when ozone or fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is expected to exceed an air quality index (AQI) value of 100.To subscribe to emailed suggestions, click here.

The New York State Department of Health recommends taking necessary precautions. Steps individuals can take to reduce risk include:

  • When the AQI is greater than 100 (“unhealthy for sensitive groups”), New Yorkers in vulnerable groups should avoid outdoor exertion and watch for symptoms when exposed to the outdoors. Susceptible individuals include those with cardiovascular disease (eg, congestive heart failure, history of previous heart attack) or pulmonary disease (eg, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), as well as children younger than 18 years, 65 years of age and above adults and pregnant women.

  • When the AQI is greater than 150 (“unhealthy”), all New Yorkers should avoid strenuous outdoor activity, and vulnerable groups should avoid outdoor exposure, especially pregnant women, who may be more prone to shortness of breath. Additionally, some vulnerable staff should work indoors and camp supervisors should be aware of local AQI forecasts and alert levels and follow AQI guidelines.

  • When the AQI is greater than 200 (“very unhealthy”), vulnerable groups should avoid all outdoor physical activity and reschedule or move to indoor activities. All others should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor activity.

  • When the AQI is greater than 300 (“hazardous”), all New Yorkers should avoid outdoor physical activity.

  • For those who are active outdoors, it is recommended to wear a suitable mask when the air quality is unhealthy. N95 or KN95 works best.

For more information on air quality forecasts for New York State, see here.To check the current air quality in your location, visit

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