Air Quality Index Due to Quebec Wildfires Now at Hazardous Level in Onondaga County; Onondaga County Health Department Urges Public to Stay Safe 

ONONDAGA COUNTY, JUNE 7, 2023 – The Onondaga County Health Department is closely monitoring the hazardous air quality conditions resulting from the wildfires in Quebec. The wildfires have caused a significant deterioration in air quality, affecting a large geographical area in the US, including Onondaga County.  

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Kathryn Anderson explained, “the Air Quality Index (AQI) has reached hazardous levels in Onondaga County, which can have adverse effects on individuals, especially those with respiratory conditions, older adults, children, and people with compromised immune systems. It is vital for everyone to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones during this challenging period.” 

The Health Department recommends that all outdoor activities be cancelled for today, and to monitor the situation at 

The Onondaga County Health Department advises the following measures to minimize exposure and reduce the potential health risks associated with poor air quality: 

  • Stay indoors. Avoid outdoor activities, especially during peak pollution times when the air quality is at its worst, typically midday and afternoon. 
  • Create a clean indoor environment: Keep windows and doors closed to prevent the entry of smoke and other pollutants. Use air purifiers or filters, if available, to improve indoor air quality. 
  • Run an air conditioner (AC) if you have one. Central AC does not draw in outside air. Be sure that your filter is clean and that you are using the highest-rated filter that your HVAC system can accommodate. Many window AC units can be set on recirculate but be sure to close the outside air damper. More information about your AC unit is available from the manufacturer website or customer service. Ensure the seal between the window and the air conditioner is tight. More information about indoor air quality is available at  
  • Use masks or respirators: When outdoor activities are unavoidable, it is recommended that individuals wear N95 or KN95 masks or respirators. 
  • Avoid physical exertion: Reduce prolonged or intense outdoor activities, especially those that cause heavy breathing, as it can increase the intake of pollutants into your lungs. 
  • Stay informed: Monitor local air quality updates by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 
  • Take care of your health: If you experience symptoms such as persistent coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, or other respiratory distress, seek medical attention promptly. Follow the guidance of your healthcare provider. Continue your medications for asthma and other lung conditions. 
  • Stay calm. This is a temporary situation that will pass, likely within days.

The Onondaga County Health Department is collaborating with state agencies to closely monitor the situation and provide updated information as needed. We understand that these conditions may cause discomfort and concern, but by taking precautionary measures, we can collectively mitigate the risks associated with the hazardous air quality index.