Sunday, September 24, 2023

Hazardous Air Quality Cancels NYC School Activities

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Outdoor activities, such as recess, concerts, and sporting events, were canceled Wednesday at public schools in New York City due to poor air quality, as dangerous smoke from wildfires burning in Canada enveloped the city, The New York Times reports.

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Other school districts in the Northeast took similar steps, mainly out of an abundance of caution, as air quality indices (AQI) soared above 400 in many locations.

The smoke is coming from hundreds of wildfires in Canada, many burning out of control. The AQI hit a record 413 in New York Wednesday, causing skies to darken and many people to remain indoors. AirNow.gov, the official home of the AQI, identifies six levels of danger:

  • 0–50, Green: Air quality is satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
  • 51–100, Yellow: Air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
  • 101–150, Orange: Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is less likely to be affected.
  • 151–200, Red (Unhealthy): Some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
  • 201–300, Purple (Very Unhealthy): Health alert: The risk of health effects is increased for everyone.
  • 301 and higher, Maroon (Hazardous): Health warning of emergency conditions: everyone is more likely to be affected.

The AQI number is tied to levels of pollutants the government considers safe, with 100 representing “an ambient air concentration that equals the level of the short-term national ambient air quality standard for protection of public health.” In other words, an AQI of 400 means that the concentration of pollutants in the air is four times the level considered safe for public health.

In all, some 115 million people in the US have been affected by the pollutants in 13 states.

Paul Katulahttps://news.schoolsdo.org
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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