NEW YORK (PIX11) – The tri-state region is experiencing dangerously unhealthy air quality due to wildfires that are devastating parts of Canada.

The smoke is being carried by winds to the northeastern part of the United States, leaving almost a hazy-like film over areas as far south as North Carolina and Ohio.  

On Wednesday, New York City’s Air Quality Index (AQI) reached hazardous levels measured at 484, higher than countries with notoriously poor air quality like India, China, and the United Arab Emirates.

What is the Air Quality Index?

The AQI is used for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted the air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.

How does the AQI work?

Think of the AQI as a thermometer that runs from 0 to 500. The higher the value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern.

If you have a low AQI value, this represents good air quality. While an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality.

What are the measurements of the Air Quality Index?

The AQI is divided into six categories. Each category equates to a different level of health concern. See the table below.

AQI colorAmount of distressIndex Measurement Description of Air Quality
GreenNone (Good Air Quality)0-50Little to no health risk
YellowModerate51-100Acceptable, but risky for some
OrangeUnhealthy for sensitive groups101-150This level affects sensitive groups and can be concerning to health
Red Unhealthy 151-200Sensitive groups and members of the general public start to become affected
PurpleVery Unhealthy 201-300Can start to cause health risks for all
MaroonHazardous air quality 301 and above Emergency conditions; all members of the general public and sensitive groups will be affected

What is the current AQI for NYC?

The AQI in New York City was around 137, as of 4:30 p.m., Thursday.

“While still in the unhealthy category, it certainly is not in the 400-425 AQIs we saw for a time [Wednesday], putting us in the hazardous category,” PIX11 Meteorologist Chris Cimino said. 

This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.