NEW YORK (PIX11) — Temperatures in the 90s, as well as relatively light winds, people getting on the road for the weekend, and wildfire smoke all combined to make for some air quality challenges in the tri-state area Friday.
Forecasters said conditions are likely to re-emerge over the summer, and people should prepare for some potential health concerns in the months ahead. Some of those concerns were evident at a major outdoor event in Garden City on Long Island Friday.
Antonella Scisciola was standing in the shade near the athletic fields at Mitchel Field on Friday afternoon.
“It is hot,” she declared. She’s a special education teacher in Valley Stream, Long Island, and was a chaperone at the Nassau County Games for the Physically Challenged, at Mitchel Field on Friday.
That heat was a major concern for people like her, who were watching over the 1,100 students and hundreds more staff at the games. For the organizers, they were games in name only. They had to take weather conditions very seriously.
“It was challenging,” said Brian Meister, another chaperone. “[We] had to make sure all of the kids were hydrated so they didn’t pass out, have any seizures or anything like that.”
In addition to the heat, there was one additional concern, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation issued an air quality health advisory for Long Island, as well as all of New York City, and Rockland and Westchester counties.
In the Empire States, according to the DEC, the air in those areas is challenging to breathe because of elevated amounts of surface-level ozone.
“They were talking about it this morning,” said Susan Maxwell, the director of the Games for the Physically Challenged. The low air quality and high temperatures were why, she said in an interview, EMTs and other medical staff who are required to be at the games were prepared to be busy.
“[They’re] always around,” Maxwell said, “so if anyone has anything going on, they’re right there to help.”
Sixty percent of the ozone, the New York DEC said, comes from cars, SUVs, and other motorized vehicles.
Meanwhile, high levels of ozone in New Jersey prompted its Department of Environmental Protection, to issue an air quality warning for the whole state.
DEP also issued air quality warnings for north-central, central, and southern New Jersey because of particulate matter.
That’s a fancy term for tiny particles in the air due to smoke.
New Jersey is still feeling the residual effects of recent wildfires in Canada, and the Garden State had a large wildfire of its own on Friday, in Bass River State Forest in South Jersey. That smoke spread widely, leaving the DEP issuing even more warnings.
“The young, the elderly, people with respiratory issues, like asthma,” said DEP air quality forecaster Jake Wallace in an interview, “those groups of people need to take extra precaution on days like this.”
Days like this are likely to be replicated, as summer continues, Wallace said.
“If we’re going to see a lot of hot, sunny days without a lot of cloud cover, it’s going to be an issue,” he said.
He recommended that people go to this website to check air quality wherever they are, at any time in the tri-state.