A Smoggy Summer in New York City

Earlier this summer, New York City experienced some of the worst air pollution on record as levels of harmful PM2.5 particles skyrocketed due to wildfire smoke from Quebec. The smoke drifted south from Canada, which had been experiencing a record-breaking wildfire season. 

Starting on Tuesday, June 6, smoke reached New York City and then lingered for several days. The air quality in New York City climbed to unhealthy levels the following day, with the average PM2.5 level reaching 117 μg/m3, 3x higher than the 35 μg/m3 guideline value set by the US EPA, and 8x greater than the 15 μg/m3 guideline of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Wildfire smog caused health problems for many people in New York City, especially those with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD. The city issued air quality alerts and advised people to stay indoors if possible. 

The unhealthy air quality conditions impacted schools and businesses, resulting in early closings at the New York Public Library, postponing the Yankees game against the Chicago White Sox, and even canceling select Broadway performances. Beyond New York City, smog affected air quality in the Tri-State area, Pennsylvania, and other parts of the eastern United States.

The smog also affected netizens, causing humorous memes to appear:

The smoke from the Canadian wildfires dissipated by the end of the week, and air quality in New York City returned to normal. However, elevated AQI (Air Quality Index) days have come and gone through the rest of June and July.

These new experiences have highlighted the vulnerability of the city to air pollution from wildfires. As a result, there’s been an increased interest in real-time AQI tracking. Take a look at this AQI mapping tool from CNN, which updates every half hour. 

Here’s a round-up of some of the record readings our customers saw Temboo’s air quality sensors:

Rocking the Boat (Bronx)

Bronx River Alliance

Why Not Care (LES)

BioBus (Harlem)

Interested in reading up about air quality? Take a look at a couple of our other related posts:

We’ve been partnering with community groups across the USA and Canada to collect hyper-local air quality data, which is shared through a daily email service. Each morning, you’ll find an email in your inbox with air quality information for your location as well as relevant information and health advice. You can learn more about it here.

Interested in benefiting your community with your own local air sensors, or have any questions? Contact us to learn how Temboo can help you!