The smoke stacks of LIPA’s Port Jefferson power station rise...

The smoke stacks of LIPA’s Port Jefferson power station rise above the trees on Friday. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

New Yorkers should monitor air quality during the summer heat when conditions could be hazardous for sensitive groups with respiratory issues or chronic health problems, officials said Friday.

State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald and Department of Environmental Conservation interim Commissioner Sean Mahar during a virtual briefing urged New Yorkers to check air quality daily to be mindful of harmful, high levels of ozone and fine particulate matter.

Officials, led by Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this week, said there is new focus on air quality awareness as the hot weather raises ozone levels and after smoke from Canadian wildfires blanketed New York and Long Island last year.

“Last summer’s unique events shone a light on air quality monitoring,” Mahar said. “It shows how far we’ve come in improving air quality and created cleaner skies in New York, but we’re still impacted by events in other parts of the globe.”

While there have been no major wildfires in Canada this year, the forests still remain at moderate risk, Mahar said. He noted New York is also a wildland state, subject to the possibility of fires and drifting smoke. The state will be tracking fire danger daily though the summer.

Long Island and much of the state remained at a moderate level Friday for ozone levels, but Long Island was also under an air quality advisory that was unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Under the advisory, which has been issued several times this spring, people with lung conditions such as asthma, as well as children and older adults, should limit exposure and exercising outdoors.

Ozone levels can increase with high temperatures, and Long Island is forecast to possibly have its first heat wave of the year with some high temperatures reaching the 90s with high humidity for the next week.

Officials said New Yorkers should check air quality daily on their phone weather app or AirNow.gov, which also provides an air quality forecast. Long Island is forecast to have good air quality Saturday, with moderate ozone levels Sunday and Monday, according to the website.

“The climate has changed. What we’re going to be seeing during the summer in New York is periodic times where the air quality is going to be in question,” McDonald said. “People do better when they can make their own decisions. Canada is not going anywhere. There are going to be fires and we need to be prepared for summer now and periodic changes in air quality.”

Some transportation advocates have noted that the governor’s scrapped congestion pricing plan, poised to limit traffic in Manhattan, was also designed to reduce pollutants and improve air quality.

“Warning New Yorkers not to choke on bad air is rank hypocrisy and cold comfort from the governor who betrayed us by walking back an innovative policy to cut gridlock and air pollution,” Riders Alliance policy and communications director Danny Pearlstein said in a statement.

State officials did not address questions about congestion pricing Friday, but noted the large impact of transportation on air quality while also citing limits on truck emissions.

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