New York City’s air quality has improved in recent decades, as the City and State have worked to lower emissions from regional and local sources. Despite this progress, two air pollutants, ozone and PM2.5, cause about 2,400 deaths per year in NYC, and thousands more emergency department visits and hospitalizations for asthma, heart and lung problems. Those most at risk include older adults, children and people with preexisting health conditions.
New York City tracks air quality with has its own neighborhood air quality monitoring network, the New York City Community Air Survey.
Fine particulate matter, called PM2.52.5 levels are caused by smoke from fires, either building fires, wildfires or even fireworks. Exposure over time to PM2.5 can worsen serious health problems, including heart and lung diseases. That contributes to more hospitalizations and emergency department visits and shortens life expectancy.
For more information on how to protect yourself from fire-related smoke, see Air Quality: Fire and Smoke.
During the summer, warm weather and strong sunshine can lead to high levels of ground-level ozone. This is a component of smog that can trigger coughing and throat irritation and lead to other serious respiratory problems. Children and people with lung diseases, such as asthma, are most vulnerable to ground-level ozone. It is also a risk for healthy adults who work or exercise outdoors.
For more information about the health impact of air pollution, read Health Impacts of Air Pollution: Data for NYC.