The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the State Department of Health are issuing an Air Quality Advisory for the entire state.

The advisory will be in effect until midnight.

The pollutant of concern is Fine Particulate Matter due to drifting smoke from the western wildfires.

Fine particulate matter consists of tiny solid particles or liquid droplets in the air that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter.

PM 2.5 can be made of many different types of particles and often come from processes that involve combustion and from chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

Exposure can cause short-term health effects like irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath.

Exposure to elevated levels of Fine Particulate Matter can worsen medical conditions like asthma and heart disease.

Health Department officials say people with heart or breathing problems, along with children and the elderly, may be particularly sensitive to PM 2.5.

They say some ways to reduce exposure are to minimize outdoor and indoor sources and avoid strenuous activities in areas where fine particle concentrations are high.

When outdoor levels are elevated, going indoors may reduce exposure.

New Yorkers also are urged to take the following energy saving and pollution-reducing steps:

  • Use mass transit instead of driving, as automobile emissions account for about 60 percent of pollution in our cities. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, people are strongly advised to carpool only with members of their households;
  • Conserve fuel and reduce exhaust emissions by combining necessary motor vehicle trips;
  • Turn off all lights and electrical appliances in unoccupied areas;
  • Use fans to circulate air. If air conditioning is necessary, set thermostats at 78 degrees;
  • Close the blinds and shades to limit heat build-up and to preserve cooled air;
  • Limit use of household appliances. If necessary, run the appliances at off-peak (after 7 p.m.) hours. These would include dishwashers, dryers, pool pumps and water heaters;
  • Set refrigerators and freezers at more efficient temperatures;
  • Purchase and install energy efficient lighting and appliances with the Energy Star label; and
  • Reduce or eliminate outdoor burning and attempt to minimize indoor sources of PM 2.5 such as smoking.

Additional information on ozone and PM 2.5 is available on the state DEC’s website.

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