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Air Quality

Air Quality Index (AQI)

Sometimes the air quality outdoors may not be safe for everyone. The AQI is easy to use. The AQI tells you when high levels of air pollution are predicted and how air pollution affects your health.  You can search by zip code so use the AQI wherever you go‎!

Check the AQI now!

You can also check the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Air Quality Index (AQI) Forecast or call 1-800-535-1345. 

During periods of poor air quality, protect yourself and pets from wildfire smoke.

Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning trees and plants, buildings, and other material. When wildfires burn near you, smoke can reach your community.

Wildfire smoke can make anyone sick, but the following are especially at risk:

wild fire

Breathing in smoke can affect you right away, causing symptoms such as:

  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma attacks
  • Stinging eyes
  • Scratchy throat
  • Runny nose
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat

Below are ways to prevent and reduce exposure to polluted air.

Keep smoke outside and reduce your exposure to it.

Though outdoor air is generally impossible to avoid completely, limiting the amount of time you spend outside breathing the polluted air is recommended

  • Choose a room you can close off from outside air.
  • Close windows, doors, fireplace dampers and turn off ventilation systems.
  • Spend more time indoors, where particle pollution levels are usually lower. Postpone any outdoor activities, including sports or hard physical work. They can wait.
  • Consider air filters and use as directed.
  • If you have to go outside, consider wearing the right respirator mask (N95 or P100) and wear it correctly NIOSH has not approved respirators for children. If you have heart or lung disease ask your doctor if it is safe for you to wear a respirator.
  • Avoid using candles, gas, propane, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, or aerosol sprays and don’t fry or broil meat, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum.
  • If you have a central air conditioning system, use high efficiency filters to capture fine particles from smoke. If your system has a fresh air intake, set the system to recirculate mode or close the outdoor intake damper.

respirator maskKeep your pets safe.

Pets and other animals can be affected by wildfire smoke too.

Indoor Air Quality

Don't forget about the air inside your home.  You can improve your home’s indoor air quality in several ways, including:

TIP: Use a portable air cleaner that is the right size for the room. Choose one that does not produce ozone. If portable air cleaners are not available or affordable, learn how to make your own DIY air cleaner.

Help others.

Check on neighbors and family members regularly, especially if they have young children, older adults or people with heart or lung issues in their household.

Keep track of fires near you so you can be ready.

Pay attention to any health symptoms.

If you have asthma, COPD, heart disease, or are pregnant. Get medical help if you need it.

Learn more about protecting yourself from wildfire smoke.

Children’s Camp Operators

Camp directors should know their local AQI forecast and alert level.  See for current conditions and follow DOH/USEPA AQI guidance as follows:

  • Orange 101-150: outdoor activities are ok for children but they should be shorter, less intense, take more breaks, watch for symptoms and follow all camper asthma action plans 

Red 151-200: similar to above but further curtail intensity and length of outdoor activities and consider rescheduling or moving activities indoors - for day camps this may mean seeking indoor activities or canceling camp during a red or higher alert level.  

  • Purple and higher (>200):  avoid all physical activity outdoors, seek indoor options and follow indoor guidance regarding air conditioning, air purifiers, etc. as available.  Consider cancelling camp.    

Asthma and Air Pollution 

Air pollution can make it harder for people with asthma and other respiratory (breathing) diseases to breathe.  Find out how you can protect yourself if you’re living with asthma

Additional Information & Resources