Onondaga County Health Department Urges Residents to Take Precautions in Response to Air Quality Alert Caused by Quebec Wildfires

UPDATE, JUNE 6, 2023, 5:40PM: The current Air Quality Index is now at a “Very Unhealthy” level. These levels are dynamic and may change as the day progresses. Stay informed at AirNow.gov and National Weather Service.

ONONDAGA COUNTY, JUNE 6, 2023 – The Onondaga County Health Department is issuing an important alert to all residents regarding the current air quality conditions in our area caused by the smoke from the wildfires in Quebec. We urge all residents to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families.

Dr. Kathryn Anderson, Onondaga County Health Commissioner, emphasizes the significance of taking proactive steps during this time. “The smoke from the wildfires can pose serious health risks, especially those with pre-existing respiratory conditions, children, and the elderly. It is essential to be aware of the situation and take appropriate measures to minimize exposure to the smoke.”

If you are healthy, you’re usually not at a major risk from short-term exposures to smoke; however, it’s a good idea for everyone to limit their exposure as much as possible, both outdoors and indoors. To ensure the safety and well-being of our community members, the Onondaga County Health Department recommends the following precautions:

  1. Limit outdoor and exertional activities: We are under an “Unhealthy” air quality index which means that people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged outdoor activity or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged outdoor activity or heavy exertion. People with heart or lung diseases such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at increased risk because the excess small particle pollution currently in the air can aggravate these diseases. People with diabetes also may be at increased risk, possibly because they are more likely to have underlying cardiovascular disease.
  2. Create a clean indoor environment: Keep windows and doors closed to prevent smoke from entering your home. Use air purifiers or air conditioning units with high-efficiency filters to improve indoor air quality if possible. Avoid activities that can contribute to indoor pollution, such as smoking or burning candles.
  3. Take care of your health: If you experience symptoms such as persistent coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, or wheezing, seek medical attention promptly. Follow your healthcare provider’s advice and continue taking any prescribed medications as directed. If you are at high risk and must be outdoors, you may consider wearing a respirator/high quality mask (for example, an N95) while air quality remains poor.
  4. Stay informed: Monitor local air quality reports and stay updated on the current situation. Pay attention to announcements or alerts from the Onondaga County Health Department and follow their recommendations.

The Onondaga County Health Department is closely monitoring the situation. We will continue to provide regular updates and guidance to the community. Learn more about the health effects of wildfire smoke.