First Alert Weather In-Depth: Air Quality Index and the air you breathe

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — It has been a couple of weeks since remnants of wildfire smoke from Canada arrived in Western New York.

Obviously it has cleared and improved considerably, but this is something that a lot of us are going to remember for a long time.

One of the ways that we measure and quantify the air quality is called the Air Quality Index. The AQI at the height of the smoky conditions was hovering around 300. This is when air quality conditions were at their worst. The lower the number, the better and healthier the air is in Rochester. Keep in mind this is not just for smoke particles, but it also includes elements of ozone, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. So it takes into account a lot of compounds that can be detrimental to our health.

However, let’s focus on just the smoky portion of the air quality. As of Wednesday, the wildfires continue burn through eastern Canada. Using our smoke forecast model as a projection of where the smoke is heading, there is some indication the haze will move south again. This will ultimately be determined by very precise wind directions and how much precipitation is falling in any one location.

Based on some of these early projections, our air quality may deteriorate to some degree for later Friday and Saturday. This forecast is based on very subtle changes in the atmosphere and will have to be updated on a daily bases. The News10NBC First Alert meteorologists will update the AQI as needed.

If you want to keep track of the latest air quality in your area you can click on and submit your zip code. This will give you an easy to reading and a current indicator for the AQI.