Severe Wildfires In Eastern Canada Cause Hudson County Air Quality To Become Hazardous

Jersey City skyline / AP Photo

Hudson County, and the entire state of New Jersey, have been severely impacted by the wildfires in Eastern Canada.  As of late this afternoon, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has listed the state’s air quality as hazardous.

The City of Hoboken has issued this alert: “As of 3:30 p.m. today, the air quality in Hoboken is listed as “Hazardous” by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The NJ DEP has declared an Air Quality Action Day for Particulate Matter for tomorrow, Thursday, June 8th. DEP officials expect levels of fine particulates will remain elevated for the sensitive groups category statewide through Thursday. To get regular updates on the current air quality, please visit:”

Due to the smoky conditions and the air quality alert that is in place, tonight’s Hoboken City Council meeting has been postponed until Monday night, June 12 at 7 pm.
Hoboken has cancelled all outdoor recreation programs for tomorrow, Thursday 8, and all permitted activities in outdoor city-owned facilities are also cancelled for the rest of today and tomorrow.

The Hoboken Public Library has cancelled all outdoor activities for tomorrow.

Residents in all Hudson County municipalities are advised to remain indoors if possible, keep doors and windows closed and limit outdoor activities as much as possible.  Sensitive individuals, including those with heart or lung disease, the elderly, and the young should limit strenuous activities.

The Hudson County Office of Emergency Management has issued the guidelines:

“When wildfires create smoky conditions, there are things you can do, indoors and out, to reduce your exposure to smoke. Reducing exposure is important for everyone’s health — especially children, older adults, and people with heart or lung disease.”

Reduce smoke exposure indoors
• Stay inside with the doors and windows closed. Whether you have a central air conditioning system or a room unit, use high efficiency filters to capture fine particles from smoke. Ask an air conditioning professional what type of high efficiency filter your air conditioner can accept.
• Seek shelter elsewhere if you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with  the windows closed.
• Do not add to indoor air pollution. Do not burn candles or use gas, propane, wood burning stoves, fireplaces, or aerosol sprays. Do not fry or broil meat, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum. All of these can increase air pollution indoors.
• Use a portable air cleaner to reduce indoor air   pollution. Make sure it is sized for the room and that it does not make ozone, which is a harmful air pollutant. Portable air cleaners can be used along with efficient central air systems with efficient filters to maximize the reduction of indoor particles.
• Create a “clean room” in your home. Choose a  room with no fireplace and as few windows and doors as possible, such as a bedroom. Use a  portable air cleaner in the room.
• Have a supply of N95 respirators and learn how to use them. They are sold at many home improvement stores and online.
• Long-term smoke events usually have periods  when the air is better. When air quality improves, even temporarily, air out your home to reduce indoor air pollution.

Reduce smoke exposure outdoors
• Take it easier during smoky times to reduce how much smoke you inhale. If it looks or smells smoky outside, avoid strenuous activities such as mowing the lawn or going for a run.
• Know your air quality. Smoke levels can change a lot during the day, so wait until air quality is better before you are active outdoors. Check your state or local air quality agency’s website or for air quality forecasts and current air quality conditions. On AirNow, you can also sign up to get email notifcations, download an air quality app, or check current fre conditions. In addition, some communities have visual range programs where you can assess smoke conditions by how far you can see.
• Have enough food and medication on hand to last several days so you don’t have to go out for supplies. If you must go out, avoid the smokiest times of day.
• Reduce smoke in your vehicle by closing the windows and vents and running the air conditioner in recirculate mode. Slow down when you drive in smoky conditions.
• Do not rely on dust masks or bandanas for protection from smoke. If you must be out in smoky conditions, an N95 respirator can protect you, if it fts snugly to your face and is worn properly.
• Have a plan to evacuate. Know how you will get alerts and health warnings, including air quality reports and public service announcements (PSAs). Public advisories can provide important information such as changing smoke conditions and evacuation notices. Know your evacuation routes, organize your important items ahead of time, and know where to go in case you have to evacuate. Reduce your risk of health problems:
• Have enough medication and food (enough for more than 5 days) on hand.
• Follow your health care provider’s advice about what to do if you have heart or lung disease.
• If you have asthma, follow your asthma management plan.
• If you feel sick, reduce your exposure to smoke and contact your health care provider.
• Pay attention to public service announcements, health advisories, and air quality advisories