Air quality advisory continues into Thursday; Monroe County gives out masks

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Notice that acrid smell in the air Thursday morning? Smoke from the Canadian wildfires hundreds of miles away is affecting our area once again. 

Those with respiratory issues may especially notice some trouble breathing. That’s why Monroe County is giving out masks. Brand new boxes of KN-95 masks arrived at local libraries on Wednesday including the Brighton Memorial Library.

Ann Fox of Friends of the Library Board told News10NBC that giving out these masks is just another way of serving the community.

“The library offers all sorts of services and this is just another example, of come and get a free mask,” Fox said.

All four area DMV offices received thousands of masks. The Rochester International CGI Jazz Festival is also giving away masks.

Masks at CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival

The state issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for the Western New York region on Wednesday, which it extended into Thursday through midnight, as the Canadian wildfires continue to burn. The wildfires are bringing particulate matter, particles so fine they can enter deep into the respiratory tract, into our region. KN-95 masks help to block those particles.

You can get masks in these locations:

  • Henrietta DMV, Frontier Commons, 1225 Jefferson Road Suite A26
  • Irondequoit DMV, Titus Mall, 545 Titus Ave
  • Arnett Branch, Rochester Public Library, 310 Arnett Boulevard
  • Rochester Downtown DMV, 200 E. Main St., Ste. 101
  • Greece DMV, The Mall at Greece Ridge, Use entrance #2 near Ruby Gordon
  • Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County Library, 115 South Avenue
  • Brighton Memorial Library, 2300 Elmwood Avenue
  • Charlotte Branch, Rochester Public Library, 3557 Lake Avenue
  • Chili Public Library, 3237 Chili Avenue
  • East Rochester Public Library, 317 Main Street
  • Frederick Douglass Community Library, Rochester Public Library, 971 South Avenue
  • Gates Public Library, 902 Elmgrove Rd.
  • Lincoln Branch, Rochester Public Library, 851 Joseph Avenue
  • Lyell Branch, Rochester Public Library, 956 Lyell Avenue
  • Maplewood Community Library, Rochester Public Library, 1111 Dewey Avenue
  • Mendon Public Library, 22 North Main Street
  • Monroe Branch, Rochester Public Library, 809 Monroe Avenue
  • Newman Riga Library, 1 South Main Street, Churchville, NY 14428
  • Phillis Wheatley Community Library, Rochester Public Library, 33 Dr. Samuel McCree Way
  • Rush Public Library, 5977 East Henrietta Road
  • Sully Branch, Rochester Public Library, 530 Webster Avenue
  • Winton Branch, Rochester Public Library, 611 Winton Road North

Find out the air quality where you live

You can get live updates on air quality through the AirNow website. As of 1 p.m. on Thursday, the air quality is considered “unhealthy” in all of Monroe County and most places in neighboring counties. “Unhealthy” means people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and teens should avoid strenuous outdoor activities. Everyone else should shorten the amount of time they are active outdoors.

Canada’s wildfire season this year is the worst on record, with around 29,000 square miles burning in eastern and western Canada, which is greater than the combined area that burned in 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2022.