The video above shows downtown Elmira for around 8.5 hours compressed into 85 seconds, starting at 4:35 a.m. on June 6, 2023. Around the halfway mark, the smoky haze begins to settle in and obscure the hills next to the city.
(WETM) – With the warm, dry weather showing no signs of slowing down and wildfires raging across southern Canada, the DEC has issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for much of New York State as all kinds of fine particles may cause breathing problems.
The Air Quality advisory was issued on June 5, 2023 for dozens of counties across the Adirondacks, North Country, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and Western New York.
To help avoid the higher outdoor levels of particles, the DEC and Steuben County Health, as well as others, said the number one thing to do to stay safe: stay inside.
They said to go indoors, but be aware that tobacco, candles, incense, or cooking fumes could make indoor levels just as bad as outside. You can also avoid hard physical activity in places where fine particle levels are high, the DEC said.
Air Quality Health Advisories are issued when the DEC thinks “fine particulate matter” will go above an Air Quality Index of 100. These particles could be anything from smoke and exhaust, to ozone, to liquid chemical droplets, all 2.5 microns wide or smaller.
The DEC said you may notice these fine particles with eye, nose, or throat irritation. People with heart or breathing conditions already, as well as elderly people, could be extra sensitive to fine particles. In downtown Elmira on June 6, there was a distinct burning smell filling the air. Horseheads School District said students would be kept inside on June 6 because of the air quality.
Other things to do to help lower fine particle levels and also conserve energy are to take public/mass transit (cutting your personal emission levels), combine vehicle trips, turn off lights and appliances, use fans (if AC is necessary, set thermostats at 78 degrees), close blinds, use appliances only if necessary and in the evening, set fridges and freezers are more efficient temperatures, use energy efficient lighting and appliances, and reduce the amount of outdoor burning.
Local governments, including Chemung and Steuben Counties, have also issued air quality alerts and urged the community to limit their time outside.