Even healthy adults are at risk from smoke from Canadian wildfires: Experts


June 7, 2023 | 1:56 pm

Even healthy, fit adults would do well to stay indoors and take it easy as plumes of smoke from wildfires choke the air with an eerie orange haze over the New York City area, according to experts.

Thick clouds descending from Quebec are expected to hang over the city for days, releasing countless dangerous particles into the air, doctors say.

While children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with respiratory problems should heed Mayor Eric Adams’ advice and stay indoors Wednesday, others would do well to follow suit, Dr Kenneth Spaeth told The Post .

While the risk is low for an otherwise healthy person, it’s nothing. There’s a real risk, said Spaeth, who is the chief of occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park.

It doesn’t take long to have mild symptoms of eye irritation, throat irritation which is kind of the minimal occurrence of symptoms that can arise in these settings, she said.

Even healthy adults were advised to stay inside if possible as the city was besieged by smoke from the fires on Wednesday.
Billy Becerra/NY Post

He definitely deserves to be cautious and not spend, you know, long periods outdoors if it could be helped and certainly avoid things that are strenuous in nature while outdoors.

New York’s air was more polluted than any other major city in the world Tuesday night, and remained at levels thought unhealthy Wednesday afternoon as more than 100 wildfires declared out of control by officials burn across Canada’s upstate province.

Thick clouds descending from Quebec are expected to hang over New York for days.

This isn’t COVID where you had a virus, where you had a relatively large particle in the air compared to some of the gases we were talking about, Spaeth said, explaining how healthy people could get sick, even if they’re wearing an N95 mask, which he recommends.

There’s a lot of what we call combustion products from the combustion process and when you have the sheer volume of what’s burning the vastness of these fires, that’s a huge amount of pollution and these combustion productions are countless, he said Spaeth.

Particulate matter includes dioxins and nanoparticles that are so small they can penetrate a mask and go directly into your mouth, lungs and bloodstream, he said.

That’s why really staying indoors as much as possible actually makes more sense.

Dr. Ramon Tallaj, who is chairman of the board of directors of SOMOS Community Care in the Bronx, knows the danger from first-hand experience that pollutants from smoke made his eyes itch and left him breathless Tuesday.

Particulate matter from smoke includes dioxins and nanoparticles that are so small they can penetrate a mask and go directly into your mouth, lungs and bloodstream.
ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images

I’m 67, I train three times a week, I’m in good health, I’ve been exposed [to the smoke] Last night. I have no breathing problems, she told The Post.

If you can avoid being on the street, stay indoors. Do your work from home if possible. At the same time, if you have to go to work, wear a mask, she advised other healthy adults.

Tallaj’s guide echoed Adams’ remarks Wednesday morning as he urged people to hunker down and limit outdoor activities to absolute necessities.

This isn’t the day to train for a marathon or do an outdoor event with your kids, Hizzoner said.

New York City public schools suspended outdoor activities Wednesday and an outdoor concert at the Prospect Park bandshell Wednesday night was canceled due to the city’s unprecedented air quality.

A Movie Under the Stars event to be held in several city parks has also been shelved, along with a scheduled jazz concert at Pier 84 on the Hudson River.

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